Lockdown #2 update: You can still buy a home, sell your home and move home during the lockdown in England starting on Tuesday 5 January 2021 (unlike the first lockdown in March 2020). But you must follow Covid safety guidance.
Should I Use An Online Estate Agent Vs High Street – Which?
It’s not surprising at all that online estate agents have blown up in popularity – they’ve made it possible to sell a home for peanuts. Using an online estate agent can literally save you thousands of pounds.
With such a compelling sales pitch, using an online estate agent seems like the obvious choice. However, what are the pros and cons? And if they’re such a bargain, why is using a high street agent still the most popular way of selling a house today?
Ultimately, it all really boils down to one pesky question: should YOU use an online estate agent to sell your house? Let’s take a look at the details…
The short answer to the question (and the one that’s as useful as a chocolate teapot): It depends.
It really does depend! I’m sorry!
At this point, I’m going to assume you’re already aware of what and how an online estate agent is! If not, then you may want to take a look through my online estate agent guide before continuing, otherwise you may just find yourself drowning in confusion.
Ok, so for those of you already aware of the what and how…
Table of contents:
How much cheaper are Online Estate Agents?
A couple of online estate agents are currently offering some pretty insane deals. Strike.co.uk have made their online estate agent service 100% FREE, no strings attached. And the next cheapest service is £94.
Ok, ok, ok, let’s get straight to it! I’m with ya’, I got your back…
There truly is no mystery here! Almost everyone that uses an online agent does so because it’s a buttload cheaper than their local high street agent(s). It doesn’t need to get any more complicated than that. It’s all about the money. But you probably already know that.
If you’re even pondering whether to use an online agent or not suggests that the prospect of massively reducing your agency fees isn’t your only concern. You already know online estate agents are cheaper, so now you’re considering the practicalities and consequences beyond the final bill.
Online estate agents charge a one-off fixed fee for their services, while high street agents charge a percentage (typically between 1.5% – 2%) of the sale price.
According to this article on the Telegraph, Lloyds Bank estimates that estate agents in London charge £10,402 on average, while the average online estate agent will charge a fixed fee of around £500. That’s FIXED.
So, let’s find out how much you can approximately save – use the Online Estate Agent Vs Traditional High street Estate Agent Calculator below to crunch the numbers…
What’s your property worth?
You could save approx:
with an Online Estate Agent
Savings based on an estimated traditional estate agent charge of 2% + VAT of the overall property price and the average Online Estate Agent fee of £500 inclusive of VAT.
If you’re not sure how much your property is worth, here’s a guide on how you can quickly get a free house valuation.
Online Estate Agents Vs High street Agents – WHICH?
See, online estate agents argue that high street agents are dinosaurs; they’re the modern day equivalent of fax machines, pagers and chewing bubble gum, while the traditional high street agents argue that online agents will NEVER be able to match the unparalleled personal one-to-one service and local experience they bring to the table.
The reality is, they can talk shit about one another until their blue in their stupid faces, because while there is a shed-load of pros and cons for both means of selling property, both are valid and serve a purpose. But, the key difference is: they each offer different experiences for two different types of sellers, even though the result is ultimately the same.
Do you know why people don’t compare 4×4 Ranger Rovers with Porsche 911s, even though they’ll both take you from A to B? Because they cater for different audiences, and that’s exactly why online agents shouldn’t be compared with high street agents. There’s enough business for all, so no one needs to kill anyone! However, for the purpose of trying to make this a well informed blog post, I will quickly swim through some of the main pros and cons between the two (some of the key points I’ve already covered, so please excuse the repetition).
Advantages of using an online estate agent
- Butt-load cheaper than the traditional high street agent, and you work on a one-off fixed fee.
- You are in the driving seat! Nothing gets lost in translation if you deal directly with the potential buyers. Heaven forbid, I’m not saying that estate agents twist the truth or forget vital pieces of information, almost as if it falls out of their head without thought. I’m just saying there is less chance of Chinese whispers with less people relaying information.
- An online agent’s service is more flexible than a high street agent’s, because you can pick ‘n choose which services you actually need/want from an online agent, and that can impact the cost significantly. For example, a professional photography service or a physical ‘for sale’ sign. You don’t really get that level of flexibility with high street agents.
Advantages of using a high street estate agent (i.e. disadvantages of using an online agent)
- high street agents generally always work on a “no sale, no fee” pricing model, while the most cost-effective online agents packages are based on a “pay upfront” pricing model (which you pay regardless of whether you sell your property or not). Some online agents do offer a “No sale, no fee” package, but they’re significantly more expensive than the pay upfront packages. You can compare the differences in my “no sale, no fee” online estate agents blog post.
- You’ll have a local agent doing the viewings and negotiating for you.
- high street agents have a local presence in a physical branch, so they’re better suited for those that prefer face-to-face dealings.
Should you use an online agent to sell your property? Are they any good?
In my opinion, it really boils down to whether or not you can be bothered to (which includes taking into consideration the potential savings). That’s really it!.
high street agents are better suited for those that want to sit back and let someone else do the monkey-work for a premium. Of course, it’s an expensive monkey you’ll be shelling out for. Online Estate Agents are better suited for those that don’t mind rolling up their sleeves, and doing the following for the sake of saving a small fortune…
- Processing enquiries
- Managing and taking viewings
- Dealing directly with the buyer
If you’re willing to do all of the above, plus a bit of admin work, and if…
- You are good with people
- Open to entertaining and tolerating weird people
- Aren’t totally repulsive in regards to hygiene, appearance and persona
- Relatively sensible and organised
- Equipped with common sense
… then, cool, this online estate agency gig might be just for you!
But before making a final decision, if you haven’t done so already, you may wish to find out how much your local agent would charge to sell your property, which will then allow you to calculate the price difference between an online agent. You can then decide whether or not the total saving is worth the time and effort required to manage the tasks in the list above. If you discover you’ll effectively save/earn (depends on which way your googly eyes look at it) £2k, you may think it’s a no-bloody-brain…
Hybrid Estate Agents (not to be confused with an ‘online’ agent)
I want to step on and crush a rumour quickly, because it might make all the difference to your final decision.
There is a common misconception about online estate agents and how they leave the poor vendors to fend for themselves once they’ve handed over their dosh. That’s really not true.
I mean, if you use a pure online estate agent, it does mean you’re opting to do a lot of the leg-work, but you will still have access to telephone support. That’s kind of the deal! However, it’s not the only option available.
In come “Hybrid Estate Agents” (a different breed of online agent).
Many online estate agents have evolved massively over the recent years, and they’re what we call ‘Hybrid’. A hybrid agent has essentially taken bites out of the online agency model and bites off the high street model. So what’s the end result?
You will generally get everything which an online-only agent provides, but with one notable extra: a dedicated local agent.
Yes! You’re provided with a local agent which will work with you until completion and take all your viewings! They will support you personally and be with you every step of the way, just like you would expect from a local high street agent.
So there are options for a more “supported” online agent experience. A Hybrid agent will bump up the price from the regular ‘online agent’ package (approx. £300 more), but still provide a service buttload cheaper than the high street alternative.
In my opinion, it’s really difficult to provide many differences between a Hybrid agent and a high street agent. Hybrid agents have bridged the gap, and they can much pretty much offer all the save services high street agents can. I’m sure most people don’t realise how far online agents have come, so they still expect to receive a much lesser service with online agents!
In practical terms, the main difference between a hybrid agent and a high street agent is the fact that high street agents operate out of a local high street branch (which you can work in and out of), while a hybrid agent typically operates out of their home office (not accessible to their customers). That’s it.
Will I be able to sell my property quicker with a online or high street estate agent?
In my opinion, there’s no reason why one should achieve a better sale than the other. However, it really depends on many variables.
But let me rephrase the question so it’s more pertinent: will I get the same amount of enquiries as a regular high street estate agent with an online agent?
Generally speaking, you should, and then it will be up to YOU to convert the sale.
90% of home-buyers research properties online, specifically from websites like Rightmove and Zoopla, and that’s exactly where most high street agents source their enquiries from. It’s not even worth using an online agent that won’t market your property on Rightmove and Zoopla, so on that basis, you should be able to generate a similar amount of interest with an online estate agent as you’d expect from a high street agent.
So, what are your thoughts? Can you be bothered to use an online estate agent, or not?
Disclaimer: I'm just a landlord blogger; I'm 100% not qualified to give legal or financial advice. I'm a doofus. Any information I share is my unqualified opinion, and should never be construed as professional legal or financial advice. You should definitely get advice from a qualified professional for any legal or financial matters. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.