Over the past few years, online estate agents such as Tepilo and Purple Bricks have become increasingly popular, rivalling traditional agents. Why? Well in short, online estate agents tend to be more affordable and transparent with their pricing than high street agents. However, before diving in head first, you should be aware of what you could be missing out on by shunning the traditional route.
Firstly, opting for an online sale means you will miss out on the local area knowledge you would get from a high street estate agency, which is often key to pricing your property correctly and selling it quickly. Not only that, traditional agents will often show your property to buyers who are looking at similar properties, meaning much more targeted exposure to highly interested people. If you chose the online route, you should also be aware that you will be responsible for a lot more than usual, for example, you will have to conduct viewings yourself unless you pay more (getting you closer to the fees of a traditional agent). And the caveats don’t stop there; high street agents are also turning to the internet to market their client’s properties so the only real benefit to selling online is the price.
Most reputable online agents will offer a fixed price for marketing your property, regardless of the asking price and this cost can vary from £300-£1,500. Not only that, some companies only ask for payment if they sell your property, making it risk-free. However, there are a lot of things this won’t include, such as getting the agent to do the viewings, so don’t get romanced by the low basic price as this is likely to add up.
In contrast, if you were to go via a traditional estate agent, the fees could range from 0.75% – 3% +VAT of the agreed selling price of your home (1.5% is the average), making the fee amount less certain, but that includes everything you’d expect, including the all-important local expertise.
Whilst we wouldn’t recommend selling your house online, it still might suit some people and their specific situation. If you’re still interested in finding out more about the process and what is involved, we have outlined the steps involved below.
When it comes to choosing your online agent, don’t just take affordability into account, make sure that they are someone you’d trust to look after your house sale – it’s a pretty big decision after all! Therefore, ensure that you also read third-party reviews and other people’s experiences to ensure the company is reliable and you won’t get any nasty surprises. You should also check what is included in the package you go for. Things to consider are a for sale sign, floorplans, photography and advertising on top property portals like Rightmove.
Be sure to understand the cost of any additional services you think you might want to boost your chances of a quick sale and ensure you can afford them. Extras tend to include Energy Performance Certificate (a legal requirement, but you may already have one), accompanied viewings and premium listings on Rightmove or Zoopla that give your property extra visibility.
Finally, you should ask them if the marketing is unlimited or if it is for a fixed term; if they struggle to sell your home, you don’t want to bit hit with an unexpected charge to continue marketing.
Your online agency will price your property for you, with the majority coming to your home to get the best idea of what it is worth. However, keep in mind that they are unlikely to have local knowledge like your high street agent in your village or town would, so it is worth getting opinions from a few local ones too for a balanced view. This will ensure you market your house at a price that will get you an offer you are happy with on a reasonable timescale.
Upon choosing the online estate agency you’re comfortable with, they will send someone over to take photos of your home, put floor plans together and prepare your EPC to make your listing shine. They will also put together the description of your property but in most cases (if not all) will give you the opportunity to put your own spin on it, for example, including information about local amenities, useful transport links or the beautiful fauna you have in your garden to attract buyers with green fingers. All in all, most companies get this turned around in about a week so they can get your house on the digital market as soon as possible.
Your agency will distribute your listing across all of the major property portals ready to find you a buyer. They should allow you to change anything during this period if you’re unhappy and, if you aren’t getting much uptake, you can always pay a little extra to get a premium listing. Premium listings put your property at the top of searches, or make them stand out more and the cost of this is usually much cheaper through your online agent than if you were to go it alone. While this is an extra cost, the increased visibility of your property may be worth it in the long run, particularly if it helps to attract a suitable buyer in a shorter time period. Not only that, online buyers can see how long your property has been listed for, which may suggest an issue with the property (even if there isn’t one) or invite cheeky offers well below the asking price.
This is probably where selling your house online differs the most from traditional agents – you are going to be responsible for conducting the viewings yourself. There are a couple of exceptions to this – you can pay extra for the company to do it or opt for a hybrid agent which offers an online service with local experts to conduct the viewings. If you are going to pay extra for this service, check whether there is a limit on the number of viewings the charge covers so you know exactly where you stand. However, you should be privy to the fact that selling a house online tends to require a more ‘hands-on’ approach from the seller.
Usually, they will first check when you’re available and then book viewings in using an online management portal which you will have access to.
Once viewings have taken place, you should check in with your rep to make sure they pass any feedback on to you; you never know, buyers could be put off by something which you can easily fix or change. Be aware that conducting house viewings is a skill and you should read up on it to help showcase your home in the best way. Why not check out our house viewing checklist for some help on what potential buyers may be looking out for!
After showing potential buyers around your home, you will have hopefully found someone willing to put an offer for your home. Negotiating any offer you receive will usually be the responsibility of the agent who will assess the potential buyer to make sure they have the funds and are a proceedable buyer. They will advise you on the negotiation (much like a traditional agent) and manage the communication, however, most are open to you having direct contact with the prospective buyer to run this yourself.
Naturally, your agent will help with the sale to give you the best chance of completing and they will be involved as much or as little as you want, however, you will have to deal with the paperwork yourself with the help of your solicitor who will provide you with legal advice.
This process will mainly be in the hands of your solicitor, however, your agent will help you agree on a date of completion with the buyer and, as most online companies ask for payment at the start of the process, there will be no surprise costs to deal with.
Selling your house with an online estate agency can offer you a great deal of flexibility as well as transparent pricing, which has contributed to its growing popularity. However, as explained, you will miss out on important things such as local knowledge and it is much more work, so make sure you understand all of the risks before choosing to sell online.
If you want the best of both worlds where there is very little effort required on your part, no strangers snooping around your house and absolutely no fees, then it is worth considering using a fast property buyer, like Vivo. Check out all of the benefits of selling your house to a property buyer and if you’re interested, get in touch now to get a no-obligation offer for your home. You could be sold in as little as 7 days, although we will work to any timescale which suits you!