Since the introduction of online estate agents, vendors have had to make a difficult choice between the cheaper fees offered by online agents or the traditional route of a high street agent. So what makes a vendor choose one over the other?
The first, and most obvious, point is the fees. When a vendor is comparing the very low fees of an online agent compared with the % fees of a high street agent, they are asking what they get for their money? And rightly so. The simple answer is service. The comparison has often been compared to taking your car for a service. When you take it the garage, they will quote for labour and advise on what parts might be needed. It is highly unusual for a garage to quote you an all-inclusive price before they have even looked at it.
The same can be said of the comparison between online and high street agents. If you pay, upfront, for the services of an online agent, where is their incentive to work hard for you and achieve the best possible price? Once they have your money, their sole objective is to secure you a buyer and move onto the next proeprty. A high street agent will not get paid until they have actually sold your property, therefore it is in their best interests to work as hard as they can to get you the very best price and push the sale through as quickly as possible, so that they get paid.
There are other factors that determine which path a vendor chooses. One is the package on offer. An online agent may offer a variety of packages, ranging from all inclusive down to one where you do all the work, whereas a high street will, invariably, have one package that encompasses everything to get the property sold. If a vendor chooses the basic package with an online agent, are they saving money in real terms. There was a case highligted a couple of years ago when a communications director for FTSE 100 company used an online agent to sell his house. The whole saga took 5 weeks longer than it should have, the vendor ended up chasing his own sale through and when it was all done he calculated that, allowing for his “hourly rate” it had cost him over £5500 of his own time and money whereas if he had used a high street agent it would have cost him around £4000 and less stress.
When it comes to selling your biggest financial asset, it is important to weigh up the pro’s and cons of each option before deciding which way to go. Ask yourself searching questions such as “what do I want from this?”, “will I have the time to do things myself?”, “what practices are in place for my agent to get the best price?”, where will my keys be securely kept?”
There is a marketplace for online agents, as there is for high street agents, but choosing which one should not simply be down to price.