Is it time to axe the traditional estate agent? Selling your house online is now easier than ever – and it can save you literally thousands of pounds in fees.
As anyone who’s ever sold a property will know, the services of an estate agent don’t come cheap.
Typically you end up paying them several thousand pounds – or as much as 2% of your property’s value.
High street estate agents gobble up thousands of pounds in fees
That’s a huge amount of money. But what do you get in return for all that cash?
Sometimes it’s just a spot in the estate agent’s window, a listing in the local paper and on a few property sites – and then someone showing people round your house and helpfully announcing “This is the kitchen” and “This is the garden”.
No wonder many people wonder whether there’s a cheaper way to sell their house. And these days, there is – more and more people have decided to ditch the estate agent and sell their home online.
What’s the difference between selling your home online and using a high street estate agent?
The main difference is that you could save yourself a huge amount of money!
High-street estate agents usually charge between 1.5% and 2% of the sale price. That means you could easily pay out £6,000 in estate agents fees on a £300,000 property.
By contrast, online rivals offer flat fees of between £35 and £1,000.
It’s also important to bear in mind that over 90% of buyers now start their property search online – so more and more people are now selling their homes online as a result.
Some of the most popular online estate agent sites are:
Many of these sites offer both a ‘basic’ and a ‘full’ service.
Online estate agents often save their customers £4,000-plus in fees
Their ‘basic’ packages (normally costing under £300) tend to include:
- Professionally written property descriptions
- Professional photos and floorplans of your home
- Listing your property on their site
- Listing your property on all the main property websites (Rightmove, Zoopla, Prime Location etc)
- Some sites like eMoov and Housesimple will also visit your home and provide valuation advice and arrange viewings.
For more money (typically around £400) most of these sites also offer a ‘full’ service, which tends to include services you’d expect from a normal high street estate agent such as:
- All-inclusive viewings (holding viewings for you and whenever you are unable to be there yourself)
- Managing the completion of the sale (handling all communications with both sets of solicitors)
- Carrying out all price negotiations with buyers
Selling your home online: is it for you?
You have three main options when it comes to selling your home. You can:
- Sell your home using a traditional estate agent
- Sell your home online
- Use both methods
Below we examine the main pros and cons of each method.
Traditional estate agents
- The best estate agents will have good local market knowledge and will price your property accordingly
- They often have a list of willing buyers on their books
- They will review and vet buyers
- They will arrange and conduct the viewings (though some are better than others at this!)
- They will carry out the price negotiations for you
- They will co-ordinate the paperwork and see through the sale
- They’re expensive!
- You can easily check property prices in your area (and see how much they actually sold for) online for free – try Nethouseprices.com, Zoopla and the Land Registry’s House Price Index for starters.
- These days, most buyers start searching for properties online before heading to high street estate agents
- Some estate agents are lazy when it comes to conducting viewings – and many do a worse job than you could (after all, you know your property best!)
- Contrary to popular belief, estate agents do NOT always secure the best price for your property. See the short video below for an explanation why…
Selling your home online
- Online estate agents are cheap – they typically save house sellers over £4,500 in estate agent fees
- Their pricing is clear – you know exactly how much you’ll pay upfront
- They’re flexible – you can just pay them to market your property online, or you can ‘bolt on’ extra services (like conducting viewings or carrying out negotiations with the buyer if you’re not comfortable doing that)
- Over 90% of home buyers are searching online – so you want to be sure your property is getting in front of them!
- Just like traditional high street estate agents, some online estate agents are better than others – go for sites that have been established for a few years (see the ones listed above), have a decent portfolio of properties, and will advertise your property on all the big name websites like Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation. Check the website Allagents.co.uk – it has customer reviews of all UK estate agents (both high street and online)
- Unless you pay for the added extras, you will be responsible for showing buyers round the property, getting Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s), and negotiating the price with any potential buyer
- Some online estate agents will vet buyers (checking they are who they say they are, and that they can afford your property) – but many don’t. So remember to make safety a priority – make sure you take the details of anyone coming to view your home, and don’t conduct the viewings alone
Using an estate agent AND selling your home online
- You get the benefit of both the estate agent’s local market knowledge and the wide reach of the online marketplace
- If you’re marketing your home online as well as employing a traditional estate agent, you need to be careful what type of contract you sign with the estate agent. A ‘sole agency’ contract means you’ll only pay the estate agent’s commission if they find a buyer for your home – but if you sign a ‘sole selling rights’ contract, you’ll have to pay the estate agent even if you find the buyer yourself and they did nothing
Make sure you shop around
Whether you decide to go for a traditional estate agent, sell your home online, or do both – make sure you shop around.
Traditional estate agent fees vary from 0.7% – 2.5%, and some offer much better all-round service than others. (Remember to read the small print of your contract too – check whether it is a ‘sole agency’ or a ‘sole selling rights’ contract.)
Likewise, online estate agents vary – some offer just to market your home online, while others give you the option of handling negotiations, managing the sale, and all the other bells and whistles.
Have a look around at the different options and check the reviews of estate agents over at Allagents.co.uk.