There’s a clear reason why online agents are making such big moves – they are much cheaper. They don’t have offices dotted across the country, and they don’t have a fleet of branded cars. Their advertising is online, and those significant savings are generally passed on to customers.
Online estate agents generally charge a flat fee for their products, which is not linked to the asking cost of the property. Some start from as little as £495. Fees for London properties are sometimes more expensive. There are many price comparison tables online to help you quickly compare flat fees.
Using the flat fee system to sell property online has two benefits; it’s usually much cheaper than a high street agent and it’s transparent in the early stages of the transaction. For comparison, the Homeowners Alliance states that an estate agent could charge between 0.75% and 3.5%. For a £200,000 home that’s the difference between a £495 flat fee and £7,000 – quite a rise. Be aware that the prices for both may not include VAT.
Also, when considering which agent to use, check if you need to pay upfront because there is a criticism of the online procedure; many charges extra for a ‘No sale, no fee’ option. In other words, you’ll only actually pay anything if the sale goes through. This at least gives you a safety net because, if you don’t take this option, you could end up paying a fee even if the house fails to sell.
As momentum has grown in the online estate agent market, high street agents have realised that they have to move with the times. So they’re dropping their prices accordingly to match up. According to this research, 30% of all high street transactions are now charging ‘less than 1%’.
Online agents have also worked to alleviate concerns that some people might possess about selling a house privately online. They have created ‘hybrid’ services as a link between the online world and local/regional sales worlds, making use of the expertise and knowledge of local estate agents. Whomever you choose, check that they are registered with the Property Ombudsman.
Selling a home online is very similar to using a high street agent. The property is valued; staging photographs and description are prepared; the property is listed; hopefully, an offer is made (following negotiation); and after the full legal process is followed contracts are exchanged.
One of the many claims that online agents make relates to the speed at which transactions take place.
Research shows that the average time to sell a home fluctuates depending on the region. Some surveys in 2015 found that in the south east the average was four weeks, while in the north east this rose to ten weeks.
Some companies such as We Buy Any Home purchase your home straight from you and sell it on at a later date. An offer could be made as quickly as 24 hours after details of the property are received and a free valuation is made. Accepting an offer from We Buy Any Home may be lower than through a ‘standard’ sale but could lead to a purchase within a week. So if time is of the essence and you need to move quickly, this could be the option to take.
As with high street agents, the seller can help speed the process further by:
It’s one of the key questions of an online agent, and unlike traditional high street agents, the services included can vary widely. Some online agents help conduct viewings and some do not. Some handle buyer enquiries and some do not. Examine the terms and conditions beforehand, and see if these services are included:
*Standard – so, as with high street agents most online agencies offer services including professional photographs and floorplans, property descriptions, and help with negotiations. The plans will be available for you to see at any point, through a simple and secure login system. If any of these are not included in the contract, then consider using the services of another agent.
*Valuations – some sites offer an instant valuation of your property after you input details about postcode, type of property, age and other information. This is by no means a final estimation, and should you sign up to use the services of an agent a more exhaustive valuation should take place. Comparing your property to other similar homes in the same area, and establishing their final selling price, should help you arrive at a realistic figure.
*24/7 help – a benefit that the 9am-5pm high street agent cannot offer. Not only will you have access to all relevant files, but you can take bookings, request valuations and edit adverts at a time that is convenient for you. So if you wake in a cold sweat in the middle of the night over some of the wording of your advert, there is a simple and easy remedy.
*Listings – Your property will be likely be listed on hundreds of property sites, including property search engine giants such as Rightmove (90m visitors a month), Zoopla, Tepilo, House Network, Sold, and Prime Location. For example, HouseSimple lists homes on 500 such sites. Another rival portal is OntheMarket, which was set up by agents incorporating 5,000 offices as a rival to some of the existing online giants. An agent should be able to tell you exactly where and when your property appears so that it receives maximum exposure.
*Viewings – as mentioned earlier, some sites arrange viewings for sellers, and some do not. Both sides have pluses and minuses; this gentleman in the Guardian arranged 12 viewings across one weekend and loved the experience – not least because he received seven offers.
As an aside, he saved almost £6,500.
*Additions – extra options that might be included for a fee include preparation of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC); a personal manager dealing with your property; a professionally written description of your home; and more listings.
Put yourself in the reverse situation of searching for a home, using a facility that siphons minimum and maximum price, number of bedrooms, postcode and other options – everything you would want to see is included on these websites, from both sides of the market.
To find out more about selling your property online visit the We Buy Any Home contact us page.