Selling property online vs traditional estate agents. The facts and advice

Posted on by

 If you are thinking of moving you will need to keep an eye on the costs involved, and with estate agent fees often running into thousands of pounds this is an obvious place to start cutting back.

Avoiding estate agents fees and selling your home yourself is a great low cost option but you need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of this choice. So below I look at the things you need to consider when deciding whether to sell online and give you some advice for if you do decide to go it alone.

Type of Service

There are a number of private-sale sites which charge a very low fee, sometimes as low as £50, to advertise your property on their site, as well as gain exposure on a number of other websites and property portals. The basic price will provide a very limited service sometimes with only one photograph of your property being displayed. In addition, you will only gain additional exposure through smaller property sites and portals. Extra coverage and other services such as a ‘For Sale’ board and phone enquiry handling may be offered at an extra cost.
There are also a number of online estate agents available that will market your property at a much lower fee than the traditional high street agent. They can do this because they can enjoy lower running costs, like any other online business. The fee would typically be around £400-£500.
You could also consider using property portals which will upload your property to their site for a fee but they do not offer any services beyond that.

Marketing

One of the benefits of using a traditional estate agent is that you get access to their knowledge of the local market. They will understand what types of property are selling and what price they are achieving on the market. If you are looking to sell your property yourself then you will need to get studying and obtain knowledge of your local property market. The best way to do this is to scour the local newspaper and property portals for similar properties, to your own, close to where you live. However, you need to be aware that the property prices advertised will not necessarily be the actual sale price achieved, this could be between 5% and 10% lower.
You will also need to take comprehensive photos of your property both externally and internally. Cutting corners in this area could result in you property remaining unsold for weeks or even months. Look on the internet for tips on how to take good property photos, I will guarantee that they will not suggest leaving your wheelie bins outside the front of your property. Research in this area will definitely pay off.
You will also need to prepare a full description of your property for uploading onto any website or portal that’s being used. Now when I say full, I do mean full – measurements of all rooms together with a detailed description of what’s in them right down to the number of electrical sockets!

Viewings

If your marketing campaign is successful then you will have people contacting you to view your property, so you need to be prepared. You will need to be flexible with viewing arrangements because if you are too restrictive, and potential buyers are left waiting too long to view, buyers will quickly lose interest. It will also be necessary to keep your property clean and tidy so that you can accommodate a viewing at short notice.
The other thing that you will need to be aware of is that many viewings are cancelled for various reasons, so it would be advisable to book a number of viewings, say, on a Saturday morning so that cancellations do not pose such a problem. It is also vitally important, for safety reasons, that you get full details of everyone wanting to view your property and don’t allow viewings when you are on your own.
Prepare in detail how you are going to carry out the viewing and make sure you show the lounge and kitchen first  as these are keys rooms that will greatly influence a buyer’s decision. If you show them your less than pretty downstairs toilet first, then that will have a detrimental effect, remember, first impressions count. (These are all the tricks traditional agents use).
Once the viewing has been carried out you will want to obtain feedback about your property to understand how you can improve things to get a better chance of a sale. This is a task an estate agent would carry out for you by a simple phone call, however, I suggest that you email the client instead as a telephone call directly from the seller may appear rude and rather pushy.

Offers

Hopefully, you will eventually get some offers and it’s important that you are prepared for them as they may come by telephone or in writing. If it is a telephone offer then I would suggest that greeting a rather low offer with the words ‘you must be joking mate!’ is not the right approach. Instead I would suggest you put together a checklist of information that you will require such as – Personal details, offer price, position (i.e. have they got a property to sell), mortgage details, solicitor details and timescales for moving. You should also not accept or reject an offer immediately but give yourself a few hours to mull things over and understand the offer in detail before responding.

Sale

Yippee! Once you accept an offer, and confirmed this in writing, then you can mentally start measuring for curtains in your new home right? Unfortunately, this is not the case, as this is where the work really begins!  Around 30% of all sales agreed never reach completion for various reasons so keeping a very close eye on progress will help to make sure that you are not in that category. You should be ringing solicitors, estate agents and your seller at least once a week to ensure progress is being made. Don’t be afraid to push for progress if none is being made, remember this is your dream home at stake here, get pushy!

Here are the steps for the progressing of a sale which may help

– Seller instructs their solicitor
– Seller mortgage application submitted
– Survey on your property completed
– Seller mortgage offer issued
– Exchange date agreed
– Completion date agreed

Also, you will need to make sure that if your seller has a property sale ongoing that this progressing satisfactorily.

Conclusion

As you can see from above, selling your property online is not an easy option. No matter what your opinion of estate agents is, most will work very hard to secure the sale of your property. Also, they will not receive their fee until the sale is complete, whereas doing it yourself will incur costs upfront and these will be lost if you decide not to sell. Cutting out the estate agent will also require a great deal of work from yourself in preparing details, taking photos, conducting viewings and progressing the sale so you may save money but you will certainly work for it.
Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to whether you do it yourself or engage an estate agent but beware go it alone and it may all end in tears. You may have paid upfront to do it yourself and failed – then we may witness the curious sight of someone welcoming an estate agent with open arms.

Image: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


About Damien

Damien is one of the most widely quoted money and investment experts in the national press and has made numerous radio appearances. He created MoneytotheMasses.com while working in the City when he became disillusioned with the way the public were left to fend for themselves because they could not afford financial advice.In 2014, after publishing his first book '30 Day Money Plan - Fix your finances in just 5 minutes a day' Damien quit his day job to focus his efforts on MoneytotheMasses.com

Thoughts on "Selling property online vs traditional estate agents. The facts and advice"

  1. Anna July 12, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    I disagree, online estate agents are a good way to promote your property compared to traditional high street agencies. People are using online estate agent services more, and will grow even more in the near future. I’ve personally sold my property through eMoov.co.uk and I’ve find them more reliable then high street agencies have been.