Over recent years a number of online estate agents have popped up but do they really sell houses or provide the level of service that a high street agent can?

The Facts

1. Local Knowledge

It is without doubt that a high street agent will have extensive local knowledge of the area.  This information is more useful than you think especially if the buyers are relocating to the area, they will want to know about the local schools, clubs, community etc. Simply calling an online agent based in a call centre cannot answer these questions. It is likely that the high street agent you are dealing with will live in the local area and be able to tell you everything you need to know. This information can really help a buyer decide which area to buy in. Not only this, but the high street agent will have a better understanding on the current market condition and provide more accurate valuations. We have heard that vendors were getting three valuations from local agents to provide them with an asking price for the online agent.  Kind of ironic, don’t you think?

2. Personal Service

One of the stand out benefits of a high street agent is that you can always walk in off the street into their office at any time to discuss your property, its more personal and it allows you to get the advice you seek face-to-face. For most people, their home will be by far the biggest asset they will sell in their lives, can you really trust the person at the end of the phone to do their best for you? Building a rapport with your agent is important, you should feel that you can trust them to do everything they can to get you the best price.

3. Fees

Online agents clearly take the lead here, but you have to ask why are they cheaper? Most online agents are charging an up-front fee without any guarantee of selling your home. If you later decide to use a high street agent because you haven’t sold through the online agent, you will have lost this money. With a high street agent you only have to pay them if they sell your house and the money is normally taken after the sale has completed, usually deducted from the sale proceeds. We have received an increasing number of calls from vendors who tried to save money with an online agent, relying only on online portals like Rightmove or Zoopla to sell their property. Yes it helps to reach a huge audience of buyers and Mr and Mrs X can view available properties from the comfort of their home but there is much more to selling a house.

4. Viewings

This is a big difference between an online agent and the High street agent – who conducts the viewings. At the end of the day this is the estate agents day job, they are experienced sales people who do this day in day out. They know how to deal with those awkward questions and get the best from a property. Buyers tend to feel far more at ease with the agent. It’s likely the agent would have been dealing with the buyers on a regular basis and built their own rapport. Therefore the agent will know the exact requirements of the buyers and point them out at the viewing to reassure them that this is the right house for them. 

5. Sales progression

The fact is that traditional agents from this point onwards are looking forward to receiving their fee and this is the moment where it is make or break. Finding the buyer is moderately easy compared to getting the sale to successful completion, especially with a national average of 1 in 3 sales falling through. Once you have accepted the offer, a high street agent will get to work generating a memorandum of sale and then regularly chasing everybody in the chain right up to handing over the keys on completion. Another good use of a high street premises is the buyer can collect the keys from an office.

To summarise, we feel there is no comparison, but maybe we’re biased. We truly feel that to get the best price for your house, you cannot simply rely on being solely online.