With the arrival of a new website, Netagent.com, offering a service to compare estate agents I thought it would be good idea to explain how they work and whether they could help when selling your house.
What do estate agency comparison websites actually do?
There are two main types of comparison websites
- Fee comparison - basic information on your property is sent to estate agents in your area, that are signed up to the relevant website. The agents then submit their fee quotation to sell your property together with details of the service offered, and the customer makes their choice. Examples of this type of website are - Netanagent.com, Whichpropertyagent and Agentquote.
- Customer review - reviews of estate agents are submitted by customers and agencies are rated on this basis. The customer can use this feedback select their preferred agent. Examples of this type are - allagents.co.uk and Checkaprofessional.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of using a fee comparison site?
- Can quickly get a feel for the fees likely to be charged by estate agents in your area.
- Can compare services offered from a number of agents, including the property portals they use.
- You will only be reviewing agents that are signed up to the website service, not the whole market.
- Essentially you will be judging estate agents only on the fees charged when you should really be judging which is the best equipped agent to sell your property. The cheapest agent may well be the least effective and they are cutting fees to try and gain business.
- Once you have selected an agent or agents they will still need to measure up and agree a marketing price for your property, so using a comparison website could actually slow down the marketing of your property.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of using a customer review website?
- You are getting feedback from actual customers who use the estate agency
- Most sites use a grading system which will enable you to compare different estate agents
- Reviews will only cover certain estate agents not the whole market.
- You only get feedback from customers that can be bothered to enter a review on the website, which is not as accurate as a normal customer survey.
- There may be a tendency for reviews to be biased towards negative comments as bad news travels faster than good.
- Buying and selling a property is very stressful and an estate agent will tend to carry most of the blame if things go wrong, review website will only provide one side of the story with the agent unable to respond to criticism.
Estate agent comparison websites can be useful in your search for the best agent to sell your particular property. However, as they do not cover all estate agents in your area they should only be used as part of your research. Face to face discussions with a number of estate agents together with online research will give you the best chance of choosing the best estate agent for you.