Online Estate Agencies
Fuelled by fast-evolving technology, buying and selling homes has changed massively in recent years.
Portals like Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location have become the new estate agent shop windows.
Within a few clicks, you can see what’s on the market, book a viewing, get updates and much more.
Then there’s been the growth of online estate agencies, hot on the heels of the traditional high street, corporate and family-run operations.
With services like 24/7 booking and smartphone apps, the home sales industry is finally moving into the 21st century.
Leading Online Estate Agencies
If you’re currently thinking about listing your property with an online estate agent, you’ve probably noticed that there are a plethora of options out there.
These days you can pay as little as £99 for an online estate agent to sell your house!
Here, of course, you’ll need to take much more of a ‘hands-on’ role – but the option is there if you choose.
Today, online estate agencies have an estimated 5% market share.
To highlight some of the most well-known market players:
Established in 2014, Purple Bricks is now recognised as the ‘heavyweight’ of the online estate agency sector.
The company has spent a huge amount of money on marketing and built an impressive brand.
There are two essential models:
- Pay up-front – i.e. for Purple Bricks to market your house. This fee is currently set at £999 (higher for London);
- Pay after 10 months – Purple Bricks will market your house without an up-front fee, but you would end up paying more after this period.
Either way, paying a fee is unavoidable and the company does not offer a ‘no sale, no fee’ service.
Although the company denies, as well as accusations of publishing fake reviews, there have been indications that only 50% of the properties listed ended up as completed.
This effectively means that many people are paying for Purple Bricks’ services without getting a successful outcome.
Purple Bricks local experts have little incentive to be concerned about the price a property sells for – or even if it sells at all – as they will earn a fee regardless.
With massive financial backing, this is another online agency that’s seen remarkable growth since launching in 2016.
Offering both up-front and post-completion fee options, home sellers can either manage the sale themselves (undertaking viewings and other processes).
Alternatively, local experts can manage and accompany the whole process for a higher fee.
This company has also grown a lot in recent years.
Originally adopting a similar model to Purple Bricks and Yopa, they’re currently offering free service in certain parts of the country.
Although they encourage sellers to use their referred conveyancing and mortgage services, there is no obligation.
This may seem too good to be true but we would argue that charging no fees is a strategic play to gain market share.
Check the Small Print!
Regardless of which option you go for, if you’re thinking about using an online estate agent, always remember to read the small print.
In particular, pay close attention to the minimum contract period and any lock-in agreements.
Will You Lose Money By Using an Online Estate Agency?
Sometimes referred to as nothing more than a ‘listing service’, traditional agents are often the first criticise their online counterparts.
High street agents, it is claimed, have the necessary local experience and offer a far superior service.
Go ahead with an online estate agent and you won’t get the same level of attention and dedication.
Perhaps worse, you’ll get less money from the sale.
Although there are some elements of truth here, we would tend to disagree with these statements.
Like many services, we’re moving through a constantly changing digital age where things are being done differently.
Take booking a holiday – are there many people out there that go to a travel agent these days?
Yes, it’s quite a different to selling a home but to expect estate agents to not move broadly in the same direction would be quite naive.
This is not to say that the online estate agency sector is the panacea and there is certainly evidence of inefficiency.
It’s certainly true that most homeowners still prefer dealing with estate agents face-to-face.
What is clear, however, is that it’s never been easier for any of us to find out about the local housing market and make our own decisions.
For example, in addition to the free house valuation tools (see below), the websites below enable you to see exactly what’s going on.
You can then make sure you’re getting the best possible price using your own common sense.
Remember, it really isn’t that complicated and estate agents do not have any kind of insider knowledge.
We suspect that the best 21st-century estate agents will bridge the gap between offering a knowledgeable service with all the benefits that come with modern technology.
Our view is that online estate agencies have a lot to teach the traditional agents and vice versa.
Should You Get 3 Estate Agents Around?
When you’re about to put your house on the market, the general guidance is to ask 3 estate agents (online and/or offline) around for a valuation.
In most cases, the agent will not be professionally qualified in the same way as a surveyor would be.
You’ll probably get a price based on what he/she is feeling rather than on real data.
Many will visit your property also mindful that they’re in competition with other agents. The name of the game is to win your business.
Often this means telling you what you want to hear to get you signed up.
When you receive the three valuations, it’s easy to be influenced by the agent that presents you with the highest price…
Who wouldn’t be?
This is often the most valuable thing you own. You’ve put your heart and soul into maintaining it and you don’t want the embarrassment of ‘seller’s remorse’ down the line.
Some agents may also tell you that there will be buyers clamouring to make an offer – sometimes over the asking price.
But does that mean they have your interests at heart?
In our experience, getting 3 estate agents simply means that they will compete between themselves to win your business.
This often means giving you a price that’s out of touch with reality…
The Truth About Selling Your House in 2019
Despite all these technological advances, why does buying and selling a home remain one of the most stressful experiences people go through?
Here are some facts worth noting…
Of course, delays, unprepared buyers, time-wasting and changes of heart all have a part to play.
But, more often than not, it’s pricing that causes the most problems…
As mentioned above, estate agents – both online and offline – will claim to be able to get you a ‘higher price’.
Of course, property sales happen every day but you’ll often find that the reality is a lot different.
Our local house market insights tool, for example, shows that differences between asking and sold prices in some parts of the country often go into tens of thousands of pounds.
Put simply: if a house is overpriced, you’re going to struggle to sell.
Of course, it’s true that demand has an important part to play. There are times when many buyers are chasing after a property and it sells above the asking price.
Remember – even if you get an amazing offer, it doesn’t always mean that things will go your way.
The buyer’s mortgage lender will send a professional valuer to confirm that the sale value is in line with the local market.
If it’s too high, your property could get downvalued and potentially put you back to square one.
Your house is then tainted as the ‘one that’s over-priced’ and you may even struggle to get the true market value when it’s back up for sale.
Ultimately, the decision on price is yours. But we would encourage you to try and look at the evidence and get the balance right.
So how do you do that?
Valuing Your House for a Fair Price
Fortunately, these days, it’s never been easier to get a reasonably accurate valuation from your phone or in front of your PC.
Rightmove, Zoopla, UK House Price Index, Net House Prices and others all have brilliant functionality to see sold prices registered at the Land Registry (UK House Price Index).
See our post on how to value your house which explains more.
Yet, even with all the data that’s out there, it’s sometimes not so easy to make ‘apples with apples’ comparisons.
There are factors that could justify a higher price for your property, for example:
- Perhaps your property is larger than your neighbours (check on the EPC register);
- You may have invested in improving the property in a way your neighbours haven’t;
- If you’ve had an extension, conversion or conservatory, then it makes sense for you to command a higher price;
- Your property may have unique characteristics that strongly appeal to buyers. For example, many prefer Victorian properties with original features and high ceilings;
- The position of the property will make a difference. If your house is further away from the main road, bus stop or some other blight compared to your neighbours, then you may be able to push up the value.
Of course, how much of a premium you should charge on top of is open to debate. It’s not as simple as saying ‘I’ve have x square foot of extra space, so my property is worth y.’
House valuation is not an exact science as psychology and emotion can come into play.
For example, someone may fall in love with your property on the spot and offer top money without a second thought. Unlikely, but happens every once in a while.
If this does happen, remember what we said above about mortgage valuations. If a surveyor thinks it’s been sold for too much, he/she will have no qualms about downvaluing.
On the other hand, you may find people cautious about the direction of the market. For example, more people these days are concerned about how Brexit will impact house prices.
If there are similar properties up for sale in your neighbourhood, the laws of supply and demand come into play. This can mean that you may be forced to drop your price.
Do your homework, look at the evidence and never rely on estate agents or so-called ‘professional’ opinions.
Here at Property Solvers, we very much welcome the licencing of estate agency professionals in line with Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) valuation standards.
The result, in our view, would be a marketplace based on common sense – and not speculation.
Property Solvers Express Home Sale
Property Solvers has been in quick cash house sale business since 2003.
We’ve spoken to 1,000’s of homeowners over the years – many of whom are in search of a better service than what they’re getting from their local estate agents.
With online estate agents, issues we often hear about include wasted up-front fees, an inferior ‘one size fits all’ service and inexperience.
With high street agents, it’s the bad advice, over-valuation and high fees…
How We’re Different…
Sometimes referred to as a hybrid model, express estate agencies embrace the core benefits of using online both and offline services.
The ‘express’ element brings the process of buying and selling homes into the modern age, without losing the personal touch.
We’ll focus on getting you a firm offer in 28 days…
You simply put your property up for sale, ignore the silly games and still get a good price for it.
Our Quick Estate Agency Method
Using tried-and-tested marketing methods, you then take advantage of the ‘window of opportunity’ that occurs at the start of the sales process.
This means getting buyers excited about your property. They won’t look at it as over-valued and be willing to make real offers.
There is very little chance of down-valuation as the price is based on solid data that surveyors use themselves.
You then avoid months of waiting for it to sell and uncertainty.
To broadly summarise…
Here’s a simple flow chart that summarises the process.
Benefits of Using Our Quick Estate Agency
- We have over 17 years’ experience of working in both hot and cold markets;
- We’ll get you a firm offer in 28 days for the best price and minimum fuss;
- We cut down the time it takes to sell through streamlining the process by using the latest cutting-edge technology. This includes electronic signatures for contracts, fast onboarding process, weekly reports from the major portals, quick feedback on viewings, direct communication channels with solicitors and conveyancers. In short, we never miss a beat!
- We’ll market your property on all the major portals including Rightmove, Zoopla, Prime Location, Home.co.uk, The House Shop, Mouse Price and many more;
- A pricing structure that ensures our properties sell in the least time possible. No more wasted viewings and continuous price drops;
- No tie-in contracts. If you’re not happy with our service, you’re free to leave without paying a penny;
- A full 24/7 service so we attend to every enquiry and cut down on the ‘wait around time’;
- We’ll look at your situation and take a clear approach that places you in the driving seat;
- Where needed, we can put you in touch with our fast conveyancing team (that normally deals with our 7-day sales).
|PS Express Estate Agency||High Street Agency|
|100% of Market Value||Yes||Yes|
|Photos and Floorplans||Yes||Yes|
|Major Portal Access||Yes||Yes|
|Book Viewings Online||Yes||No|
|24/7 Call Answering||Yes||No|
|Online Chat Support 24/7||Yes||No|
|Time to Sell||28 Days||2-3 Months|
*This service is for up to a maximum of 10 accompanied viewings. Note that we also do not charge any up-front fees. If you’re not happy with our service, you can leave with no questions asked.
If you’re looking for a solid and reliable national estate agency to work with, we’re the ones for you…