High Street Real Estate Agent vs Online only Agent differences

Which? Consumer magazine comments on using an Online Only Agent

1. Viewings:

most high street estate agents will conduct viewings for you, but with an online agent the default option is that you do them yourself.

2. Communication:

unlike using an agent in your local high street, you can't call in for face-to-face chats or ask the agent to come to you. Although someone will visit to take photographs and do floor plans, all other contact will be usually be via email or phone. Some online estate agents will assign you a personal account manager, but it is unlikely you will meet them in person.

3. Valuations:

most online estate agents will visit your home to value it, just like a high street agent, but you won't necessarily get an agent with specific knowledge of the local market. You don't have to use the valuation provided by your online agent as your asking price - you could always ask a local high street agent for a valuation and use that figure to inform the asking price you set with an online agent.

4. Marketing:

high street estate agents market your home until it sells or your contract comes to an end. In practice, the same is true of online estate agents, but always check the package you've chosen. Most offer 12 months as standard, although some only offer six months.

5. Vetting buyers:

good high street agents will know whether potential buyers are quality applicants and could already have suitable buyers lined up. All of the online estate agents we looked at say they take details of names, contact details, finances and whether potential buyers are already part of a chain. However, we'd recommend asking your agent exactly how this works.

Drawbacks of using an Online Only Agent

  • Lack of local knowledge: a good high street estate agent will know all about the local property market. Even online agents with regional reps can't really compete with a high street agent who will know your neighbourhood inside out.
  • Legwork: you may end up doing more of the legwork yourself. Some online estate agents will negotiate offers for you and act as a middleman to progress your sale to completion, but not all will. Taking charge of all communications with buyers and solicitors without the help of an agent could be time-consuming and potentially stressful.
  • Viewings: more often than not, using an online agent means you'll have to conduct viewings yourself. This means you'll need to be comfortable showing strangers around your home, not to mention making yourself available during evenings and weekends.
  • Selling price: because most online estate agents charge a flat fee and don't earn commission on the selling price, you could argue they have less incentive to get the best price possible for you.

For the full article view www.which.co.uk/money/guides/how-to-sell-your-house/