Home Owners Could Save Hundreds By Dealing With Online Estate Agents

You may recently have come across talk of online estate agents. In just the last year or so, they have been exploding in popularity and their adverts are now regularly shown on TV and radio. But many still don’t know exactly how they work, what the difference is between traditional agents and if they can be trusted with such an important asset.

These are all important questions that need answers in order for you to make a decision on whether you want to deal with them. But don’t worry, we have all the information you need right here, in our beginners guide to online estate agents.

What are online estate agents?

Online estate agents do the same job as traditional local estate agents, just without the premises, high fees and face-to-face contact. The national average estate agent fee is currently 1.8% (so on a £300,000 property the fee would be £5,400!) whereas the average online estate agent fixed fee is around £600.

Because of sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla, the Internet is now the main place for those looking to buy or rent. Online estate agents get your property listed on these portals (and beyond), they vet buyers, help negotiate offers and more.

But the Internet has been around for ages! Why are online estate agents only becoming popular now?

Online estate agents only started to gain real traction in 2014 but now their market share continues to grow rapidly. That’s because of several important factors:

  1. The way people find properties has changed – over 90% of people find their place to live via online search portals, not estate agent windows.
  1. People are increasingly comfortable handling the most important things in life, online. Just 5 years ago, could you imagine using your smartphone to login to your bank account and send funds?
  1. Prominent investment companies and business people are pouring money into some of the most popular online estate agents, boosting their marketing efforts so people like me and you find out about them.

Can online estate agents be trusted?

Making an upfront payment and trusting someone you can’t see in person is a sticking point for some. If that does concern you, some online estate agents require just a small payment upfront with a larger overall payment once you property does sell.

Beyond this, you want to know what you’re dealing with a reputable company. Seek independent reviews of the estate agents on sites such as Trustpilot, TrustedAgents and Review Centre. In addition, make sure the reviews look legit. Are they spread out over time? Are all reviews overly positive? Are the reviews verified?

The estate agent should be registered with the Property Ombudsman, they should clearly display their registered office address and you should be able to contact them during normal office hours (at a minimum) by phone, email and possibly live chat.

At some online estate agents such as CastleSmart.com sellers get their own dedicated account manager throughout the process to help build a personal relationship.

Stop being biased! Give me some advantages of a local estate agent…

It’s difficult but we’ll try! Traditional estate agents are probably still the best option for those that want a completely hands-off approach to their property sale or letting; that’s what you’re paying the extra for.

They’re also suited to those who aren’t so comfortable using the computer, and who would rather pop-in to see their estate agent every few days so they can be updated face-to-face.

Some local estate agents might also have an advantage over online estate agents as they’re able to describe the local area to prospective buyers in more detail. The counter-argument here is that the seller is in the best position to describe what the pub around the corner is like. And if someone is moving to the area, the chances are they have some familiarity with it already.

How do I get started with an online estate agent?

If you’re ready to take the plunge and use an online estate agent, search ‘online estate agents’ and shortlist 4-5 that impress you the most.

The sales process varies slightly from agent to agent so your best bet is to ask each agent to call you back at a time that’s convenient for you. This is a good initial test to see if the agent sticks to their promise and actually calls you when requested.

Get a feel for each agent, calculate your cost savings then proceed. Remember, online estate agents offer tailored packages. For example, if you want professional photography and floor plans, that will cost extra so don’t just look at the headline figure. Check all the sales options you need and make sure it includes VAT so you know exactly how much you’re paying.

Then when your property has sold, and you’ve likely saved yourself thousands in estate agent fees, give yourself a massive pat on the back!