Is an Online Estate Agent Good Value?

Online Estate Agents vs Your Local Estate Agent, Preston Baker


There are a large number of online only offerings for selling your home. There are Pros and Cons for any style of agent, and in this article we cover the things that matter to you most.

  1. Cost
  2. Service
  3. Price Achieved
  4. Time taken to sell
  5. Stability

What Does an Online Agent Cost?

It goes without saying that the biggest advantage of online agencies is the fee . They tend to have fixed fees that are usually cheaper than traditional estate agents, ourselves included. However, you pay a cost elsewhere in the value they provide (or don’t for that matter).

With most things in life, you pay for higher quality items and services. We aren’t the cheapest agent, but we don’t try to be. We don’t want to provide a service that is adequate, we want to be exceptional.

Exceptional agents will get you more money for your property, which means you walk away with more money, even if the fee is higher.

That is the thing to really hold onto. Selling a house online with a cheaper agent means less work will be carried out to generate interest. That automated service doesn’t provide the same level of value as we do.

Online agents generally ask for payment up front. Whereas, we only get paid our fee once we successfully sell your property. If we don’t perform, we don’t get paid. What a fantastic motivator to do our best.

Service Provide by Online Agents

Anyone, can become an estate agent. As long as you are registered with some dispute resolution agencies you are good to go. This means that the person you might be instructing online, may not have any background in selling houses.

Online agents are not necessarily local. They offer the services of a local ‘expert’ but just how knowledgeable that person is could vary wildly. Having a bricks and mortar agency that is resident in your area gives you a much better chance of getting a very localised bespoke service.

A high street estate agent knows your local area, they know if there are planning applications in your area that will affect price, they know which schools you are local to and how that might influence interest in your property. You get to meet a person face to face, to assess their manner and confidence and whether you want to work with them.  

Having a dedicated negotiator responsible for your case means you get to build a relationship with them, and so does a prospective buyer.  Arranging viewings for potential buyers is taken care of by Preston Baker Directly. It may be your online portal doesn’t even have agents you can call to progress your case, or if they do this may be an additional cost.

In the fee we charge we get professional photographs taken; a video tour; a professionally written description; glossy brochure; floor plans; advertising through local social network channels; paid advertising through google and other channels; a dedicated outbound call centre; agents to speak to up until 10pm every day; ten years experience in your local area; pre-launch marketing; sourcing buyers before a property goes to market; a network of landlords and investors. The list goes on and on. You get all this and we don’t charge you a penny unless we sell your property.

As demonstrated above, the level of service we provide to our clients is streets ahead (pardon the pun) than an online agent.

Price Achieved with an Online Agent

One of the main factors at getting your house sold for the best price is what it is valued at when launched to market. Property valuations are not something you can do well from information available online. You need to be inside the property and you need top know the local area inside out.

Too high, and you won’t get any interest. Too low and you are missing out on getting the best deal. Online agents may use market data of houses sold in your area recently, but to get that data they can only get the sale price from the land registry that is 3 months out of date.

Also, just because a house near you sold for a certain price, doesn’t mean yours should be on the market for that price. You may have renovated, extended, landscaped the garden etc, conversely your house may be in a poor state and not valued as highly.

Pricing the property right gets you more money in the log run. We wrote an article about how important an accurate house valuation is.  In a nutshell, pricing it to sell at a realistic price and then marketing aggressively to get more people seeing the property is what gets you above asking price offers.

It’s competing bidders that get you the price you want, not sticking your house on the market for £10k more than you want knowing people will knock you down in price. Do that, and the extra £10k will turn off any interest in your property.

If you don’t get an offer in the first ten days of being on the market, it gets more difficult to sell without having to reduce the price.

Our marketing strategy is geared towards driving as much interest in the property as possible in that first ten day window. That’s why we get our clients on average 3.8% more using our Property Launch method.

Time Taken to Sell

The longer your property is on the market the harder it is to sell. We sell quicker than an online agent for a few reasons. We utilise the same property portals but we do it better, because local markets require a different approach. We use the major portals rightmove, zoopla and OnTheMarket to advertise your property.

We have a database of users built up over ten years, that we can market your property to.

We have a specialised marketing strategy designed to generate more interest in the first ten days leading to a Property Launch event where all interested parties view on the same day, driving up excitement and competition in your property leading to better offers.

An online estate agent lists your property, but it tends to be you who handles the viewings, and there could be many before you get a sale. Some agents offer an accompanied viewer service, but they will charge you more for the service, which then pushes the price nearer to that of a traditional agent.

We put all our effort into pre-launch marketing, because it works. We sell on average 47 days sooner than traditional methods, and for £7.5k more. You can speak to us on the phone until 10pm every single day of the week.

That’s why we sell for more, that’s why we sell quicker, that’s how we provide value to our clients.

Stability

Until recently stability wouldn’t have made it into this article. However, we’ve seen recently a number of Online Agents go into Administration. Emoov closed back in December 2018 leaving thousands of sellers out of pocket after paying up front.

If it’s so simple to sell a property online, as the online agents seem to indicate, why are they closing at an alarming rate? That’s a discussion for another time, but simply put it comes down to one main issue.

You cannot market your brand as heavily as they do and make a profit from the fees they charge their clients.  

Selling a property is easy. Selling a property quickly and for the highest amount is not.

If you look at the other major players in the online estate agency market, they all seem to follow a similar pattern. They are making huge losses, and the only way they keep trading is through large volumes of outside investment. Why are they making losses? Because all their money is spent on promoting themselves, not on promoting your property.

A number of high street agents have started to slash their fees in order to compete with online agents. But it isn’t a sustainable model. You cannot provide the level of service a client wants for the price an online agent charges. Which is why there is a rise in high street agents shutting branches down.

Preston Baker have been around a decade. We were formed during one of the worst housing market crashes ever, and thrived in that environment. We aren’t a typical high street agent. We constantly innovate to find new ways to get you the best price for your property.

Summary

When assessing what estate agents offer, you need to take into account everything in this article.

If you’re not in a rush to sell your property, getting the best price isn’t the primary concern, and you don’t mind having to handle your own viewings, then an online agent could work for you. It’s a one-off payment, that you make in advance, and you get the level of service that you pay for.

If you’d like to sell quicker, for the best possible value, and you’d prefer an agent that handles all aspects of selling the property for you including viewings, then you would be better placed with a traditional agent. You only pay a fee on successful completion, meaning if your house doesn’t sell then we don’t get paid. You save money by paying a higher fee, because the increased property sale puts more money in your back pocket.

We are confident that the value we provide our clients is worth the fee we charge. You only have to look at our Trustpilot page to see the positive impact we have on people’s lives. We love what we do and we want to make your life less stressful with the service we provide.

Your house is the most expensive thing you own. Put it this way, If you had a Van Gogh painting to sell, you wouldn’t stick it on Gumtree would you?