8 August, 2018
In the previous blog we looked at high street agents and the service they offer to the home seller and home buyer. In this blog we are going to look at the offerings of an internet agent as a relatively new alternative to selling your property.
What is an Online Agent?
Recent years have seen the introduction of many online agents into the housing market. Generally they offer low flat-rate fees and a service that relies mostly on the legwork of the property owners. This is fine if you have the time on your hands, however, in this fast-paced world that we live in it’s a lot to undertake for most people, especially without any prior expertise in the field.
Be aware of upfront payments
To engage the services of an online agent you usually pay up front (some do now offer payment plans or deferred payment) to list your house on the property portals. You must be aware though, that this fee is paid irrespective of whether your house is sold or not. Many of the online agents have a representative that will value your property and be your point of contact. This representative is likely to cover a very wide geographic area, which means their depth of local knowledge and understanding of the local housing market may be limited.
Check what’s included in the service
The service from the online agents can vary, with some merely listing your property for sale and expecting you to provide your own photographs and floorplans, while others will include this service, or offer it at extra cost, but do the photos and floorplans themselves. When selling any product, first impressions matter so it is vital that you have good quality photographs and floorplans in order to engage potential buyers from the off, that’s why we believe it is important to use a professional, external company for all our photographs and floorplans.
Be prepared to carry out your own viewings
As a reactive service, online agents will list your property for sale on their own website and various property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla, but you will have to chase any leads that come in. When it comes to conducting viewings there are some online agents that will offer you this as an additional paid for service. Keep in mind that as the representatives cover a large geographic area the viewing slots they can offer may be restricted. Ideally you need to be as accommodating as possible on viewing times to maximise every opportunity for potential buyers. Other online agents do not offer this service at all and you will need to have a flexible home and work life to carry out the viewings yourself.
Don’t rely on feedback
In terms of viewing feedback, some of the online agents will send out an automated request for feedback and it is really down to whether the buyer takes the initiative and replies. This can be a very frustrating process for sellers. If someone has viewed your house you can be waiting on tenterhooks to see if they will book a further viewing or make an offer. As a high street agent, we pride ourselves on the rapport we build not only with our sellers but with our buyers too, and we find that this relationship encourages them to stay in contact with us regularly.
Good relationships are important
When on offer has been made, it is down to the skill and experience of the estate agent to negotiate the best price for your property. When an agent’s fee is dependent on that sale, one may think it makes them fight all the harder for the best price. Knowing your database of buyers and having a strong rapport with them means you know when you can negotiate harder or when a buyer is at their limit and pushing too much will lose them, in turn risking the sale. Understanding the local market inside out also means you know the best advice to give to your sellers about when they should accept an offer or hold out for more.
If an online agent has a sales progression team, though not all do, it is often a head office that are then passed your ‘case’ where you become a property address in a file, and a personal relationship is potentially lost. As we know so many sales break down at this point. This is often where the high street agent really earns their fees in terms of the man hours dedicated to pushing your sale through and ironing out those wrinkles that can easily prevent the sale from completing.
When people write reviews of the service they received from Michael Hardy, time and time again they say that it is invaluable having an agent who understands their personal situation and is fighting their corner and protecting their interests from start to finish.
Whatever direction you choose to take, consider the options and what will work best for you, but always speak to a high street agent and get a free, no obligation valuation so you can make an informed decision about which route you feel confident in. If you want to speak to one of our team call Wokingham 0118 977 6776 or Crowthorne 01344 779 999 and we will be more than happy to help.