As consumers, we are increasingly used to making purchases online and doing a lot of our personal business online too – from online banking to paying bills and purchasing all types of goods. In recent years, more and more online estate agents have appeared on the market, offering a service often for a flat rate fee, usually paid up front.
However, when it comes to dealing with your property, most probably the biggest asset you own, you most likely want to know you are in trusted hands, and online agents, though growing in number and popularity, offer a less personal home sell/purchase experience compared to a local high street estate agent. What’s more, some of the biggest online agencies have been criticised for their marketing tactics, giving unreliable sales figures and having a business model that has not been sufficiently tested. Here are a few points to keep in mind, when weighing up the pros and cons of online agents vs high street estate agents.
As mentioned, most online agents charge a fee upfront before your property can be marketed. The most important point here is that you pay this fee regardless of whether your property is sold or not, which may well leave you out of pocket and with an unsold property still on your hands. It has been questioned whether this system leads to de-incentivising, where traditional agencies are motivated to sell property in order to keep their businesses running. With high street agents, you only pay if your property sells, meaning that we work hard to find the right buyer for you and for the best possible price. Paying less to an online agent may be tempting, especially for those on limited budgets, but it could also be a false economy. It’s only cheaper to use online agents if they manage to sell – otherwise they’re just very expensive listing sites.
There can often be extra, hidden costs when working with online agents, such getting professional photography taken to market your home or have floor plans drawn up, as well as additional services like after sale support. Anyone considering using online agents should be clear on what is included in any upfront fees and what necessities will be charged extra for – you may find that you end up paying more than you would your local estate agent after all. High street agents will offer a full service for their fee, including marketing materials, online listings and expert guidance and support throughout the sale/purchase process from start to end.
An important point to remember, carrying out viewings on your property is part and parcel of a traditional high street agencies service – saving you time and effort. Online agencies will mostly require you to carry out viewings yourself, which many won’t be comfortable with or have the capacity to do. Having a property sales professional conduct viewings is often your best bet when it comes to getting a quick sale for the best price – we have done this many times before and know how to show properties in their best light, dealing with any questions and queries viewers may have. Though not always the case, viewing properties yourself may lead to a slower sale, ending up costing you time, and potentially more money, in the long run.
After sale support
Once an offer has been made, estate agents and property professionals can help act as middlemen on your behalf, helping to push things along and make sure the last details are drawn up correctly. Online agents often cannot step in to do this work, leading to more stress, a slower sale and you questioning whether that flat-rate fee was really worth it.
Some online agencies now have local representatives but the reality of working with many is that your main point of contact is someone working from a call centre, miles away from you and your local area. With your high street branch, you know you can reach the same people and will be working with a dedicated professional, with knowledge of your local area and the local property market – something we’d argue you can’t put a price on when it comes to dealing with your largest asset. Offering a face-to-face service that can guide our clients from start to finish of the home sale or purchase process is what our customers still find hugely valuable.
Finding a home that ticks all the necessary boxes – near the right school, in an accessible location, and close to transport links – might seem like a hard task and like a race to the prize, with specific areas being particularly competitive when it comes to school catchments. At Vanilla Square we know our local market inside out and we’re here to navigate the most competitive marketplaces on your behalf, helping you find the right home for your family. Contact us today on 0141 229 0210 for a chat with our friendly team.