You can save thousands of pounds in commission by using an
online estate agent that charges a flat fee rather than a commission – but how
much will you need to up by using an online estate agent, and is there a catch?

Woodland Estate Agents, leading Ilford estate agents, explains
the pros and cons to online estate agents and high street agents.

One in five high street estate agents are at risk of going
out of business amid a growth in online companies, according to recent figures.
High street agents offer a face-to-face service that can guide a seller from
start to finish. In exchange, they receive commission for this personalised
service. Online estate agents are now promising the same service – minus the
commission fees. Instead, you pay a fixed one-off upfront cost, which can be a
lot cheaper.

This can seem attractive, but in many cases it’s
non-refundable – so you pay whether your home sells or not, while there’s no
up-front cost with most high-street agents.

The pros of high
street agents

The biggest pro to using a high street agent is peace of
mind. On the high street, you can get access to an experienced agent who can
build a rapport with you and everything about your home. They will have sales
people in place to act as the ‘middleman’ after an offer is accepted.

High street agents are trustworthy and reputable, as they
can trust experienced high street agents to get the best price possible during
negotiating processes and push sales through by helping with any problems that
may crop up – something an online agent cannot offer. High street agents also
have local knowledge and are aware of local market trends and pricing levels
for the area, which is something that online agents may not be able to match.

High street agents also only require you to pay if a
property sells.

The cons of high
street agents

The price can make or break a decision to choose a certain
agent as commission through high street agents can be through the roof,
sometimes amounting to thousands depending on the price of your house and where
it’s located.

High street agents can manage viewings for you, the viewings
are often limited to their set schedules. So, if someone wants to view out of
hours, you’ll have to conduct the viewing yourself, or it may never happen.

The pros of online
estate agents

Using an online estate agent to buy or sell a property has
quickly become a trend in the UK. In less than 4 years, PurpleBricks has become
the 3rd biggest estate agent in the country, and it’s not the only
firm growing fast.

It’s a cheaper option to high street estate agents as you
pay an upfront cost and not the additional payment once it’s sold. You receive
a 24/7 service as the internet is always open, which means sellers can manage
their sales as and when it suits them. There’s also a call centre which can be
accessed over the phone, offering sellers an online dashboard to track, update,
arrange and confirm viewings and manage offers.

You also have the freedom to use a face-to-face service to
guide you from start to finish, and the freedom to use multiple agents as
generally there is no contract period online.

The cons of online
estate agents

The downside to online estate agents is that you have to pay
an upfront online fee that is payable, regardless of whether or not the
property actually sells or not. Whilst it may seem cheaper at first glance, if
the sale falls through, you could still end up out of pocket.

There will be a lack of consistency, as you could find
yourself talking to a different person each time as you will essentially be
calling a national call centre.

Extra costs will build up, as you may have to pay extra for
professional photos and to have a floor plan designed. Extra help will cost
you, so keep an eye on the price!

Unless you’ve been appointed a regional sales
representative, you will more than likely have to conduct viewings yourself, so
you will need to be comfortable showing strangers around your home.

There’s not an after sales support, as an online estate
agent cannot call a buyer’s lawyer to push along the negotiations – only a
property professional can do this – which can make the buying process a lot

Overall, the general consensus is to sell or buy a property
through a high street agent. Yes, the costs may be dearer, but you have a
personal face-to-face service with a dedicated estate agent, they will do all
the work for you including listing the property and dealing with the legal side
of things from start to finish.