Around 94% of homeowners still use traditional high street estate agents to sell their home, with the remaining 6% using online estate agents. As such, this statistic means that 94% of advice offered by professional estate agents generally advises AGAINST using online estate agents. But why?
It’s understandable that advocates of a business model would promote their own beliefs. But it saddens me when misleading advice is given that lacks honesty and correctness. And it’s this attitude that reinforces the fact that estate agents are one of the least trusted professions in Britain.
I write this blog to debunk some of the myths associated with online estate agents and hope to contribute to it more over time.
High Street Estate Agents will NOT necessarily obtain a higher sale price
To justify their extortionately high fees, many high street estate agents claim that they will achieve a higher sale price for your home than an online estate agent. And that the higher sale price they achieve negates the higher commission fee that they charge you, meaning you profit more from the sale of your home. This net profit is often referred to as the ‘walkaway figure’.
Of course, this is absolute nonsense. How could such a statement be justified? The same property would need to be offered for sale by an online/high street estate agent at the same time and in the same market condition. And to prove this assumption, this scenario would have to occur thousands of times over to be deemed as accurate.
None of this is feasible though, since high street estate agents often don’t let homeowners advertise their home concurrently with another estate agent. This is often enforced by a contract stipulating a ‘tie in’ period or ‘market exclusivity’.
Any claims like this are unsubstantiated.
Great service and low cost is NOT mutually exclusive
High street estate agents claim that homeowners cannot have both great service for a low cost. Of course, this is a myth!
It is entirely possible. But unfortunately, because many high street estate agents are still technologically underdeveloped, they still use old inefficient processes and don’t harness the benefits of automation. Yes – estate agency is a ‘people’ service – it can’t all be automated. But a lot of it can be. And by reducing operational costs, savings can then be passed on to the homeowner.
Online Estate Agents do NOT always charge an upfront fee
Another myth is that online estate agents charge fees upfront, and hence don’t have any motivation to sell your home! In the early days of online estate agency many did charge an upfront fee – some still do! But nowadays many online estate agents tend to offer a ‘pay on completion’ alternative, or a ‘no completion no fee’ option.
Online Estate Agents CAN operate locally
There is much talk about online estate agents not offering a true ‘local’ service, and a commonly used term in the industry is ‘Local Property Expert’ (LPE). Whilst this may be true for some online estate agents, other online agents do provide a true local service.
The question homeowners should ask themselves is “Do I need a local property expert?” and “What does a local property expert do?“. In essence they will visit you at your home, conduct a property valuation, prepare an advert for the website and will (or should) have knowledge of the local area (amenities etc.). If you don’t require a face-to-face visit, can value your home based on statistics, are capable of listing your own property on a website and have knowledge of your local area then YOU can be your local property expert.
Online Estate Agents ARE real people
Another myth is that online agents only operate remotely, in the mysterious ‘cloud’, and that they aren’t easily contactable because you can’t drive to their high street shop. This of course isn’t true. Many online estate agents….if not every online estate agent….have real people who visit your property to take photos, draw floor plans and perform appraisals. They offer live/instant chat, phone support and email support with strict response times.
Online Estate Agents DO offer Sales Progression
There is a common misconception that online estate agents are merely a ‘listing’ service. Again, this is a myth. All good online estate agents offer a sales progression service, and some operate on a ‘no sale no fee’ basis.
Online Estate Agents DO have a database of interested buyers
I recently read an article that implied high street agents can find a buyer quicker than an online estate agent because they have a ‘database of ready-waiting interested buyers’. Well guess what…..so do online estate agents!
Homeowners should be aware that the digital divide between online and high street estate agents has created a divisive environment.
Similarly to a Brexit debate in Parliament; there will be truths, lies, scaremongering, inaccuracies, bias and animosity. Which is why it is so important for homeowners not to be misled, and to make informed decisions when selling their home.