Online vs Traditional: Estate Agent Pros and Cons

Online vs Traditional: Estate Agent Pros and Cons

Many vendors are being tempted to try on-line estate agents. Here James Guillum Scott of Ibbett Mosely outlines the pros and cons of marketing your property on line versus the traditional approach.

At first glance the low fees on-line agencies charge seem very attractive and look like they will save vendors several thousand pounds.

It’s true that some vendors successfully sell on-line but take a quick look at the related on-line forums and social media sites and you will read about the poor customer service offered by some on-line estate agents.

Here are some tips to help you decide:

  • Traditional estate agents will usually offer to help you with viewings. Some vendors don’t like meeting purchasers so you need to consider whether you have time to do all the viewings yourself – especially if you work full time.
  • Effective communication between vendors, purchasers and solicitors, as well as others involved where there is a chain, is essential. On-line agents typically don’t have the time, resources, experience or expertise to manage this communication and the sales progression as professionally as traditional estate agents.
  • Traditional estate agents are experienced at trying to achieve the best price for your property as often their commission will be based on a percentage of the sale. They will do all the tricky negotiation for you and make sure you are kept in the loop. On-line agents rarely have the time or expertise to get involved in the detail.
  • Feedback from the people who view your home is extremely important. Traditional estate agents will telephone prospective purchasers after a visit to get as much detailed feedback as possible. On-line agents usually just send an e-mail that will be forwarded to you if the viewer responds to the e-mail requests.
  • If your property is in a very popular area and there is potential for multiple offers you might benefit from a sealed bid approach to achieve the best price. On-line agents would be unable to offer this service.
  • If you have a higher value property, glossy brochures are still a powerful sales tool. Many traditional estate agents now provide brochures free of charge.
  • Selling through an on-line agent is primarily a reactive approach whereas many traditional estate agents have databases of prospective purchasers who they will match to your property. They will telephone or e-mail these people directly which gives more chance of viewers being suitable purchasers.
  • Believe it or not, purchasers still like to look at the properties featured in high street estate agents’ windows. Sometimes people are not actually looking to move but they spot their dream home and decide to enquire about it.
  • Here today gone tomorrow.  On-line estate agents are appearing all the time and spending vast amounts on advertising in order to attract the volume of customers they need to become profitable. Be extra careful if you are being asked to pay fees up front in case the agent goes out of business. Established estate agents like Ibbett Mosely have been around for decades and are unlikely to disappear overnight.
  • Lastly – with a traditional estate agent if we don’t sell your property we won’t charge you. With the on-line option you will have to pay a fee whatever happens – sometimes up front.

If you are a risk taker, not in a rush to sell and have plenty of free time and don’t mind doing a lot of the work yourself then the on-line model might be the one for you. But it’s worth thinking very carefully about whether the money you save is worth it when a traditional estate agent could achieve a better price for your property.

James Guillum Scott FNAEA, Residential Sales Manager for Ibbett Mosely Surveyors LLP