Estate Agents: Online Agency vs Traditional Agency

online agencies vs traditional agencies

How do you compare an online agency vs traditional agency to sell your home?

With the rise in online searches being the most popular way to find a home, online estate agencies have become a popular choice for many people looking to cut costs on fees.

But what are the benefits of choosing an estate agent from an online agency vs traditional agency?

Online Agencies: Pros

One of the principle reasons that most home sellers choose an online agency is down to the low rates they charge. Most online agencies offer a service for a fixed fee which can be significantly lower than the traditional commission structure of traditional high-street agencies.

save money online estate agency

Saving money is a key motivator for using an online estate agency but the service may not cover all aspects of your house sale. Check the details of the agreement. Image via Pixabay.

One of the reasons they can charge lower rates is that much of the process of selling your home, including the preparation of a property’s particulars, taking photographs, listing the details online and, crucially, arranging and carrying out viewings is done by you.

This last point can be a perceived as a major benefit for sellers especially those who prefer to manage their time.

With so much being undertaken by the seller themselves, you might be wondering what exactly the online agencies do for their (albeit lower) fixed fee.

Well, aside from the obvious exposure your property receives on one (or more) of the main property search sites like Zoopla or RightMove, some (but not all) will also provide the following within their fees:

  • Free valuation (based on statistical data)
  • Check buyers ID prior to viewings
  • Validate all offers
  • Handle negotiations
  • Drawing up a memorandum of sale
  • Provide conveyancing monitoring through exchange and completion

It is worth noting that some online agencies can undertake viewings for you as well as arranging for professional floorplans, photographs and a physical valuation. These can sometimes be charged in addition to the base fee.

Lastly, some online agencies offer services that vendors (and buyers) can access via an online portal. Available 24/7, this database provides sellers with up-to-date information and analysis on how many people are viewing their property’s particulars, how many enquiries have been made and how any offers are progressing.

Online Agencies: Cons

There is an obvious disadvantage with the services offered by online estate agencies and that is one of knowledge and physical involvement.

Although many are owned and operated by property professionals with a great deal of experience in the industry, just as many are not. This lack of experience can show when it comes to providing advice and support. From the very outset on property pricing, the way that a property is photographed, staged and marketed a lack of experienced input can significantly impact the value your home can command on the market.

When it comes to negotiations, there is nothing to compare to the experience of an estate agent who knows the local markets and has some first-hand experience dealing with the potential buyers; selling a house takes sales skills and this requires personal contact.

This element is also important when it comes to handling viewings (if your online agent doesn’t conduct viewings as part of their service) and whilst some people are happy to show strangers around their home, many are not.

The major downside when it comes to dealing with an online agency and one that is reported by most customers who have had a negative experience is one of after-sales care. Whilst many report good service up to the point that a sale has been agreed on a home, more report that the service afterwards can be inefficient. Despite popular portal services being available 24/7, the physical process of conveyancing still requires active management by an effective employee which, incidentally, must be a property professional. Certainly some online agencies offer after-sales care, but many do not.

Yes, online estate agency staff may not contact a buyer’s solicitor to chase up negotiations only those members of staff with a professional association. This can certainly slow the process down if only a handful of staff can perform this essential task.

Another downside to the online agency is their popularity and huge growth (as is the case with larger nationwide online agents). Taking on significant volumes of properties has left many under-prepared and their service can be diminished as a result.

Those attractive base fees can also add up so it’s worth checking what is and isn’t included within your contract. It may be an attractive prospect to list your home with an online agent for a few hundred pounds but less so if you have to factor in additional charges for floor plans, handling viewings and providing after-sales support.

online estate agency

An online agency can get your property to market swiftly but the property details may be down to you to provide. Image via Flickr.

Lastly, and worth bearing in mind if you have been attracted by the low prices, you usually have to pay online agency fees up-front with no refund if your home doesn’t sell. With six in ten homes in London coming off the market ‘unsold’, this is something to bear in mind.

Critically, paying up front does little to incentivise an online agent to see your property as they have already been paid.

Traditional Agencies: Pros

When it comes to the choice between online agency vs traditional agency, most traditional agents offer the same service that are available with an online agency but with some added extras and inclusions.

Your home is likely to be the most treasured possession you own and trust plays an important part of where you place the responsibility to sell it. Not only do you want to make sure that you realise its highest value but handing over the keys to someone who will perform the viewings is also essential. Traditional (or high street) estate agencies usually offer sellers the chance to meet their agent face to face.

sell your home yourself

Using an online agency to help you sell your home yourself could be a false economy if you don’t negotiate the best price with your buyer. Image via Pixabay.

Principally, a bricks-and-mortar estate agency can often bring valuable local knowledge which can be key when matching buyers to the right house. It can also have an impact on your asking price. Failing to maximise on local property prices and housing trends could mean your home languishing on the market for too long or not achieving the best price.

Unlike many online ‘estate agencies’ that often act simply as listings sites, a traditional agent is legally obliged to offer Government backed redress schemes to its customers meaning your sale is protected by strict regulations on conduct and service.

Lastly, when it comes to price, traditional estate agents generally only charge you when your home sells which gives them a huge motivation to work hard on your behalf; not only to secure the best offer but also to get the contracts completed. Their fees are usually fully inclusive and because they come out of the agreed sale price, you are never left out of pocket.

Traditional Agencies: Cons

For most sellers, the biggest negative about estate agents comes down to one of cost. Why pay more if you can get it done cheaper elsewhere?

Another downside with traditional agencies is their availability for viewings. Most will have a good portfolio of properties and set schedule for when they conduct viewings. Some agents fail to live up to the expectation of performing all viewings on your behalf and you may end up showing buyers around your home after all.

One of the main selling points for the bastion of high-street estate agents was always greater visibility. A few decades ago, their own websites, local newspaper advertising and mail marketing meant that only they could offer the best coverage for selling a property. Of course, nowadays most property searches begin online via the big property search sites like RightMove and Zoopla.

So, which type of estate agent is best, online or traditional?

There is no simple answer to this and when it comes to estate agents an online agency vs traditional agency can still throw up good and bad examples.

Of course, some people do have success with an online estate agent with many being happy to shoulder the extra responsibility of selling their own home. The beauty of the internet means that people are free to choose the solution that best suits their needs.

The key to choosing the best estate agent is to make sure you fully understand both the extent of the services being offered and the price you are going to pay. Do your research, get some recommendations and always interview an estate agent to get the facts of how they intend to sell your property for the best price most efficiently.

In the end, choosing an online agency vs traditional agency is about a personal preference but there might be another way…

Hybrid Estate Agencies

With a more creative and innovative focus, hybrid agencies offer a blend of both a traditional estate agency and an online one.  Though the blend of services and flexibility is in keeping with an agent based online, a hybrid offers those important commodities:

  • Local knowledge
  • Practical experience
  • Professional accreditation

Property Assistant is an independent and local agent working as part of the globally successful Keller Williams team. We think that we offer the best service available for selling your home; from competitive commission rates and high online visibility to personal yet professional service and an unrivalled knowledge of local markets.

If you would like to know more about the benefits of selling your home through Property Assistant then contact us today on 0118 912 2370

Featured image via Pixabay.