The main buzz in real estate markets these days is about online estate agents vs the high street estate agency model. From old-fashioned days, when selling and buying houses was a long drawn, out process via your local agent, the idea of selling property on the internet has changed how the markets work. From traditional high street estate agents to online-only agents, sellers now have more choices to work with, so their property gets sold quickly and smoothly.
However, there is still much confusion about what online estate agents do, terms and conditions of using them, and how they deal with aspects like selling prices, conducting viewings, call centres and much more. Additionally, people often compare them to high street agencies, so they know all their choices and options. This article aims to clear up the confusion and help you understand the difference between online estate agents, hybrid agencies, and high street estate agents.
How Do Online Estate Agents Work?
What is an Online Estate Agent?
Many real estate agencies now offer online services, and several online-only real estate agencies conduct business online. However, some aspects of the real estate process still require in-person interactions, like property inspections and final closing procedures, which a high street estate agent will complete.
An online estate agent operates exclusively online rather than having a physical office location. Their selling and renting services include outsourced valuations, marketing, viewings, negotiations, and conveyancing. Online agents charge lower fixed fees than high-street estate agents because they do not have the expenses of maintaining a physical office. However, they don’t offer the same personal service as local estate agents.
They may rely more heavily on technology and automation to facilitate buying and selling. Many people ask us about free online estate agents, but there are none. All offer their services for fixed agent fees. There are property portals where you can advertise your property for free, but since these mainly rely on ads for revenue, their reach isn’t broad. They also don’t get involved in the selling process itself.
What is a Hybrid Estate Agent?
Hybrid estate agents combine aspects of both high-street estate agents and online estate agents to offer a complete estate agency service. They operate on digital platforms, with technology to streamline and enhance buying and selling processes. A Hybrid agency may use online platforms to list properties and offer in-person viewings and inspections.
In addition, hybrid agencies may use virtual reality and other digital tools to create virtual tours or 3D models of properties to showcase them to potential buyers. They may also offer lower fees than estate agents but with more hands-on approaches than online agents.
The services offered by hybrid agents vary, as each agent has a unique business model and approach. However, all offer traditional and online estate agent services, giving consumers more choice and flexibility in buying, selling, or renting a property.
Rights when Using an Online Estate Agent
Sellers have consumer rights, so be aware of these to protect yourself and ensure fair and satisfactory transactions. Here are some of your fundamental rights.
Precise information: Clear and accurate information about the services and fixed property valuations conducted via an online estate agent are not conducted in person. They use data like how much other houses have sold for and are selling for and work out an average price per square meter. The major downside is this doesn’t account for any features that add value to a property.
For example, this wouldn’t be factored in if you installed a new kitchen or bathroom. Likewise, suppose the property hasn’t been well kept and looked after, and significant repairs are needed. In that case, valuations might be over, wasting everyone’s time. This is why people turn from online estate agents to hybrid agents. Additionally, remember many high street agents offer a free valuation and advice.
Online Marketing: Most online agents will upload your property to all major portals selling houses. The downside is this eliminates other forms of marketing like physical for-sale signs and newspaper adverts. Additionally, they ask for photos. Homes need professional images to sell quickly and capture serious interest. However, the cost may be down to the sellers, so this is one factor worth checking.
Viewings: Some online agents charge extra to complete viewings. Otherwise, sellers are responsible for confirming and carrying out appointments. If you choose them to host viewings, check whether they are local experts. Many buyers want local knowledge when viewing, and these details make significant differences between putting in an offer.
Negotiate Offers: This is down to the seller, but once again, it is worth checking what is included in the online estate agents’ fees because, at this stage, the sale moves onto conveyancing and lawyers. Whereas high street agents are purely responsible for this sale, online estate agents offer different services.
Best Online Estate Agents
There are many lists of the best online estate agents. Still, when searching, it is essential to find the ones that suit your requirements rather than looking at rankings because these can sometimes be biased depending on the website. Ideally, the best online estate agent for you should have a good customer record and be within your budget.
Purplebricks: Founded in 2012 with venture capital firms, Purple Bricks initially only operated within southern England but then expanded to the rest of the country. As the first online estate agency to float on the stock market, it had plenty of time to capture the market. Their fixed fee is higher than other estate agents, but the services differ, so research.
Yopa: Founded in 2014, the significant difference between YOPA and Purple Bricks is YOPA don’t insist on sellers employing their surveying agencies. They also include personal valuations and have good reputations. The one downside is that their online estate agent fees are higher for London properties, but they have a record for the best price.
Doorsteps: This prominent online company was turning over 1 million pounds yearly in just three years. However, in November 2022, they went into liquidation.
Emoov: This company offers professional photos with fixed fee packages. In addition, those who want to sell fast and are prepared to accept the market price will buy your property from you. Many people rank them in the list of best online estate agents.
E Sale UK: With the pay upfront service, this agent offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. Currently achieving Trust Pilot ratings of 9.9, which is an impressive service, but doesn’t lead the market; they have the potential as one of the best online estate agents to use.
Using a High Street Estate Agent
Experts say that selling and buying a property is one of the most stressful things. So, if you plan to use online estate agents, thoroughly research everything. Find out each online estate agent’s fees and what they offer for those fixed fees. Also, weigh them up against the services high street estate agents provide. They include
- Property Valuation: High Street agents provide property valuations. This involves assessing the property’s condition and location to determine a selling price.
- Property Marketing: Once a property is listed for sale, a high street agent will market the property to potential buyers using all methods, including online advertising, local newspapers, portals, and social media.
- Property Viewings: A traditional high street agent arranges property viewings for potential buyers and renters. Showing them around the property and answering any questions they may have; the agent is knowledgeable about the property and local amenities.
- Negotiation: High Street agents negotiate with buyers or sellers on behalf of their clients to ensure the best possible deal.
- Conveyancing: High Street agents may partner with local solicitors or conveyancers who can handle the legal paperwork for buying or selling a property.
We are Spot Blue high street estate agent based in London. As a dedicated local estate agent, we offer services to both sellers and buyers. Established as a high street agent in 2003, many leading newspapers quote us for industry insight and predictions. So call us today if you want to speak with a high street agent about buying or selling property.
Also, About the Property Market
Property Shows on TV: From your local estate agents to viewing from your armchair, few of us can resist the urge to binge-watch property shows on TV. From couples who house hunt abroad to teams who buy run-down homes to renovate and flip them, we get addicted to the highs and lows and peeping behind closed doors. Here at Spot Blue, our team regularly tunes in for home improvement ideas and inspirations and to see regional property markets of other global destinations.