What is an Online Estate Agent?

What is an Online Estate Agent?

There’s no escaping the fact that technology has drastically changed – and continues to change – how estate agents operate. We previously spoke about how estate agent marketing has evolved, but now we take one step further and look into online estate agencies and how they’re having an impact on more traditional companies. Here at Property Webmasters, we don’t want traditional agencies falling behind, which is why we do everything in our power to deliver a high-class service to those who need it. You may also find how to set up an estate agency in the UK helpful.

In this day and age, people often end up using an online estate agent without realising. They’re a digital alternative to local agencies, and can come with their benefits. However, for a more human, positive process, you may wish to “stick to what you know” and opt for the more traditional route.

How Online Estate Agencies Work

Typically for a fixed-fee, online estate agents will advertise the property you’re looking to sell on some of the largest, most well-known websites. Over recent years, online agencies have broken down the walls and emerged in the industry. They’ve become increasingly popular, despite their services being slightly more basic and less personal than what you would receive by using a high-street agent.

Two types of online estate agents have come to light over the past few years. When you use an online-only estate agent as a seller, it normally requires you doing most of the work yourself – including taking images, creating the sales advert, dealing with enquiries, arranging viewings and negotiating offers. There’s also the hybrid agency, which is a balance of online and traditional. In these cases, local property experts will be on hand to deal with enquiries, viewings and offers.

Some online estate agents will now include the option of valuing and marketing your home for an additional fee. Many will also liaise with your conveyancer, other estate agents and buyers until the sale is complete.

How Property Valuations Are Conducted

Estate agents that operate online only will value your property by any data that they are able to obtain from the internet, so it may not be a true representation of how much a property is worth. Hybrid agencies will send someone out to value the property, however, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be working with someone who has in-depth knowledge of the local property market.

Remember, you don’t have to obtain a valuation from just one agency. Try getting a couple – maybe even a mix of traditional and online agents – to value your property. This may help you to gain more of an understanding of how the two different agencies operate.

How Properties Are Marketed

Whether you choose to work with an online or traditional estate agent, properties are generally marketed in the same way these days. All estate agencies will list your home on their website and the likes of popular property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla.

The added benefit of choosing to work with a traditional agency is that your property may be listed in their window or on their walls inside. Thanks to this, your home can be marketed to those who don’t have regular access to online facilities. Plus, everyone loves to just look at what properties are on show in the high street offices.

How Viewings Are Carried Out

Online estate agencies usually require that you carry out any viewings yourself. This would mean that you have to be comfortable trying to be a salesperson and showing someone around your home – which could be tricky if you’ve never done it before. Some online agencies can offer accompanied viewings, though this typically incurs an extra fee.

What Communication is Like

You’ll have very little face-to-face contact with an online estate agency as most communication will be done over the phone or via email. In some cases, where you’re working with a hybrid agency, someone may come and take photos of the property but that’s typically the only time you will see them. Working with a local, traditional estate agent allows you the luxury of being able to go and speak to someone face to face as frequently as you like.

Please note that some traditional agents tend to stick to your usual 9-5 working hours. Online agents can be more flexible, with some offering assistance around the clock.

Pros and Cons of Using an Online Estate Agent

Before you jump straight into bed with an online agent, it’s important that you’re fully aware of the pros and cons.

Pros of Using an Online Agency

The Cost – You’ll generally find that working with an online estate agent costs you less money than what it would if you were to use a traditional agency.

It’s Convenient – Online estate agents will typically work around you. So, even if you work long or difficult hours, most online agencies can accommodate this. Their call centres are usually open during evenings and weekends, which means you don’t always have to take time out of work to deal with the buying or selling process.

It’s Flexible – Many online agencies can offer you a package that’s tailored to suit your specific needs.

Cons of Using an Online Agency

Lack of Local Knowledge: When you choose to work a local, traditional estate agent, their knowledge of their area is far superior to that of an online agent.

Doing it Yourself: In most cases, working with an online agency means that you have to handle most things yourself. This includes conducting the viewing, so you’ll have to be able to speak to strangers confidently and comfortably.

Paying Up Front: Despite lower costs, you usually have to pay for your property to be marketed with an online agency up front. This means that you don’t always pay for your results – which could result in you paying the online agency – even if they don’t manage to sell your property!

High Street vs Online

Physical Location
High Street – There’s a physical office, which can usually be found on your local high street. Means you’re able to pop in and speak to an estate agent whenever you like.
Online – No physical office. Operates online only, so there’s practically no face-to-face contact with an estate agent.

High Street – Charge commission. This fee is usually based on a percentage of the sale price.
Online – A fixed fee is charged, whether the property sells or not. You’re usually required to pay up front.

High Street – Cost is typically between 1% and 3% of the property sale price. This usually varies depending on the agency.
Online – Can vary between £100 and £1,500. Again, this all depends on the agency you decide to work with.

High Street – All high-street estate agents offer a professional valuation as part of their service.
Online – Some online agents will use a local property manager to value the house or go online to check the area and similar prices.

High Street – You will receive regular face-to-face contact with your estate agent and they will be on hand to offer assistance throughout the entire journey.
Online – Practically no face-to-face contact, everything will usually be done online, via email or over the phone.

Marketing the Property
High Street – Your property will be advertised on large online portals, the estate agent’s website and in their office – usually in the window or on their walls.
Online – Your property will be advertised on large online portals and maybe some smaller ones too.

High Street – The estate agent themselves will be ready to conduct viewings on your behalf. However, you may carry them out yourself should you request to do so.
Online – You’ll usually have to arrange and manage viewings yourself. The agent may charge an additional fee for them to do it.

High Street – The agent will negotiate prices between the buyer and the seller. They can also help to arrange any legal paperwork.
Online – Usually an optional service you have to pay for. You may end up having to close the sale yourself.

All of this is the reasoning behind us working with traditional estate agents as opposed to online agencies. If you’re struggling to compete with the rise of online estate agents, get in touch with our team.

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