On-line vs Traditional Estate Agent?


Q.        In the light of Sarah Beeny’s series on online estate agents, do you agree that the days of the traditional high street agent are numbered?


A.           The short answer is no. Of course, you’re probably thinking, “Well he would say that, wouldn’t he?” But I mean it. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the future for good traditional agents is as rosy as ever.

If you focus purely on the difference in fees, you might think using an online agent could save you thousands of pounds. Yet despite this, only a tiny percentage of people actually do so. Why? Well, for the simple reason that that there is a whole lot more to selling your home than simply advertising it on the internet – or anywhere else, for that matter. Indeed, finding a buyer is only the start of what a good agent does for his, or her, clients.

Granted, some online agents do more than others, but…who is going to qualify all those prospective buyers, to sort the serious prospects from the timewasters and examine their financial circumstances in order to ascertain their ability to proceed with the purchase? Will an online agent arrange viewings and show prospective purchasers over your property? Will they negotiate on your behalf to secure the best possible price?

Then again, if the first flurry of interest doesn’t produce a buyer, what will an online agent do to help? With a good traditional agent, there will be a team of real live people still actively trying to sell your house, giving you feedback, and advising you on any steps you could take to refresh your offering – for example, with new pictures, or a revised property description. Remember, unlike online agents, traditional agents don’t get paid unless and until they achieve a sale – so they have a real incentive to continue working on your behalf!

I could continue. The list of things good traditional agents routinely do for their clients just goes on and on – all the way to exchange, and even beyond. And all at no extra cost, beyond the fee already agreed at the outset.

Obviously, it’s not impossible to sell your home through an online agent. And you can always dismiss everything I’ve said on the grounds that I’m hopelessly biased. But just ask yourself this simple question. If online agents do such a good job and offer such great value, how come so few people use them?