Using an online estate agent might sound like a risky venture to the seller who has never used one before.
It’s a transaction involving a physical piece of property costing hundreds of thousands of pounds or more, seemingly being carried out by someone in a virtual world. Little wonder then, that the world of online estate agency has perhaps been one of the slower markets to be embraced.
However, this is changing – especially among the ‘younger’ customers and even more traditional online locations, if that isn’t a contradiction. While fees from residential home sales in the UK cost around £4 billion a year, online agents’ fees are continuing to force the traditional, high street fees down. As mentioned in the Daily Mail, high street agents’ fees are now down to around 1.3% of the value of a sale, compared to 1.8% just five years ago.
So how have online agents managed this apparent revolution in the housing market? Simply, by taking advantage of what the digital world has to offer, by transferring the savings that online agents make directly to customers and selling their homes for a flat rate of between £500-£1,000.
One of the age-old complaints about dealing with high street agents is the perceived number of fees and charges, for anything from photocopies to file transfers and even obscure insurances (this writer paid for something called ‘chancel insurance’) for his first home. While these are not necessarily anyone’s fault or mandatory, online agents like to promote the fact that their pricing structure is more transparent, and always available to examine online.
The process is simple. First, the seller should find an online estate agent they like, and there are plenty to choose from – a search for ‘online estate agent’ brings up 103 million responses. Once you’ve signed up for more information, the company will be in touch and carry out a valuation of the property. Many portals now have local experts in their ranks, dedicated to each individual sale, meaning that your home will be assessed with a high degree of knowledge and care and matched towards likely buyers.
From there, additional services such as site photography and property description will be offered, and once you’re happy the home will be placed on sites such as Rightmove, Zoopla and others. Some online agents such as HouseSimple.com place the property on as many as 500 local and national sites. You’ll maintain a level of control for arranging valuations, and also feedback on those valuations, so be open to people visiting regularly to ensure a better chance of success. If and when an offer is made and accepted, the sale should go through fairly smoothly as there is no waiting for the post, or indeed no need to actually attend the company’s office.
It all looks fairly smooth, and of course, sometimes people will pull out of potential purchases. The drawback of your property being offered on a portal of thousands of others is that buyers could still see another they prefer and drop out, just as they could in the ‘traditional’ arena. However, the market is clearly going in one direction.