Am I better choosing a traditional or online estate agent?

10th May, 2017

The choice of options when it comes to selling your home has never been better. With traditional high street estate agents sitting alongside the new breed of online estate agents, consumers have more flexibility than ever, but because these online agents are a relatively new phenomenon there are still lots of questions about which one is more suitable and who you should trust with the sale of what is most likely your greatest financial asset.

What does local really mean?

High street estate agents will usually work within a fairly small area – think a single town or a particular suburb of a city which they know incredibly well.  Online estate agents offer valuations too, but a single valuer will often cover a much larger area, most like a whole region of the country or a city and its surrounding towns, so make sure any agent doing a valuation really does know your market well.

Having access to someone who has in-depth knowledge of your area will mean that your property is priced accurately. Properties that are priced accurately sell quicker than those that are overpriced – crucially a good agent will ensure that your property doesn’t sell quickly because it has been undervalued.

Fee structures.

Traditional and online estate agents have different fee structures. Traditional agents will usually charge you a percentage fee, based on the final agreed sale price of the property, while an online agent will charge you a fixed fee. If you do opt to go with an online agent and your property doesn’t sell, you will most likely have to pay the full fee as well as any additional costs you may incur through relisting with a traditional agent.  Online agents receive a flat fee to regardless of a sale whereas a high-street agent are much more motivated to achieve the best sale price because it benefits both parties..

Achieving the best sale price.

Looking at a selection of 22 sold properties from April 2017, across twelve local offices within the Birmingham and Worcestershire regions, Robert Oulsnam and Company achieved an average sale price of 100.18% of the asking price. It is worth asking an online agent what sales figures they have achieved in your area, as you may be better offsetting a higher percentage fee to achieve a higher selling price with a traditional agent.

Sale to completion time:

Your property has sold – fantastic news. You can now look for your next property or move forward with the completion of sale.  As a rule of thumb sale to completion usually takes around twelve weeks with a traditional agent. UK Land Registry data shows that figures of five months or more are not uncommon amongst online agents. If you are part of a chain, this may have a knock-on effect as timescales for completion become mean sellers lose patience, or pull out altogether. A traditional agent will only invoice you upon completion of the sale, motivating them to assist you with its progress. Often a traditional agent will give you a single contact who will manage the whole process whereas many online agents outsource and charge an additional fee for “sales progression” services. They may also require you to use their nominated conveyancer or charge you an additional fee to use your own.

With so much as stake the best advice is to do your research and choose an agent who can give you the best levels of service and achieve the best selling price for you.

Robert Oulsnam and Company are an award-winning estate agency, with 12 offices operating across Birmingham and Worcestershire. With over 40 years’ experience we understand our local markets and pride ourselves on exceptional levels of service.