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Online Estate Agents Vs High Street: The Differences

Online Estate Agents Vs High Street: The Differences

Market News Default Author 16th February 2021

Choosing the right agent is key to selling your property. We have seen an increase in online estate agents in recent years and there has been discussion as to whether sellers should sell their home with an online agent or stick with an established high-street estate agent. In today’s blog, The Guild share their views on high-street and online agents.


How Do Online Estate Agents Work?

One of the biggest advantages that come with opting for an online estate agent is the savings that you can make on your overall fees. But how do they work? 


When it comes to valuing your property, an online estate agent will use online data, and then market your property on popular platforms such as such as ZooplaRightmove and On The Market, etc and the quality of images that they will use to market your property are just as professional as those of a high street agent. 


Most online agents will arrange the viewings on your behalf, and keep in touch with you via phone or a dedicated online portal just for you, however, an online agent wouldn’t normally attend the viewing. This would have to be yourself. 


What are the advantages of online estate agents?

The Cost:

You can typically save a lot of money in fees by opting for an online estate agent.


An online estate agent will display their fees clearly and transparently on their website, including any VAT charge. They will also display the entire process of their involvement clearly online, from creating the marketing placement, to finding a prospective buyer and every step in between. 

You Have Control: 

Your property will still feel like your property when you use an online estate agent. You maintain control over managing everything online and deciding when viewings are convenient for you. 

Flexible Fee Packages:

By opting for an online estate agent, you have the freedom to choose the right package for you that ticks your boxes, delivers the services and knowledge you need and matches a price that you can afford.

What are the disadvantages of online estate agents?

Upfront Costs:

In most cases, when it comes to opting for an online estate agent you will have to pay your fees upfront, whereas if you opt for a high street agent, you pay on the completion of your sale. If your property does not sell, or you wish to switch agents, you will then lose your money. 

Property Valuations:

As everything is conducted online, you cannot be 100% guaranteed that ‘local property experts’ to your area are actually experts in the area that your property is located. Carrying out property valuations based heavily on data can be inaccurate and therefore it is recommended that even if you opt for an online agent, you ask a high street agent to carry out a valuation for you to get an accurate valuation. 

Control / Responsibility:

When you opt for an online estate agent, you do manage everything yourself, whereas if you opt for a high street agent, they take the heavy responsibility off your shoulders. You need to make sure that you have the time available to take this on, before you lose out on your upfront fees.

Conducting Viewings:

As mentioned above, an online agent will not carry out the viewings on your behalf. This is something that you should consider when choosing which style of agent you wish to choose. 
Businesswoman or real estate agent looking through online property portfolio, top view

How Do High Street Agents Work?

A high street agent will take care of the sale of your property from marketing the property, to finding prospective buyers, carrying out viewings and completing all legal formalities necessary to exchange. 


What are the advantages of high street estate agents? 

Personal Service:

Probably the most obvious advantage of opting for a high street agent, the service you receive will be personal to your property and situation. You will be working closely with an actual person, as opposed to someone online, which provides a lot of reassurance for many when undergoing such a large and personal task as selling a property. 

Accompanied Viewings:

Your high street agent can carry out viewings on your behalf, or accompany you on the viewings - whichever is your preference. 

Experience / Knowledge:

When you opt for a high street agent, you opt for experience. Many local estate agents have a wealth of knowledge in the area they specialise in, meaning that they have great experience of the local property market. Not just that - they know exactly what to look out for, what to ask and the signs to pick up on during a viewing. 


What are the disadvantages of high street agents?

Expensive Fees: 

The most common - high street estate agents are a lot more expensive than online agents. They will more than likely charge greater fees as they have greater overheads than online agents, for example their storefront rent, staff, business rates and so on. (The usual commission for a high street agent can be between 0.75% and 3% of the final selling price.)

Limited Hours:

High street agents will only work the hours that their store is open. Usually 9-5, and shorter hours during the weekends. This can be tricky when it comes to holding viewings or needing to get in touch with your agent out of their working hours, if you yourself work long hours. 

happy woman on phone outside high street estate agents

Online Estate Agents vs High Street Estate Agents: What Should I Choose?

The option lies totally with you and your situation and circumstances. If you wish to maintain most of the control of your property sale, and don’t need to rely heavily on the services of your agent, then an online agent is the best option for you. 
However, if you wish to rely on your agent, and let them take care of the process, then a high street agent will be best. Let’s hear from what our agent Simon Bradbury, from Thomas Morris, advises about going down the high street agent route:
“High-street estate agents offer a full service. The internet-only estate agent does not normally offer the full range of essential services required by sellers and landlords without charging additional fees for those services. For example, conducting accompanied viewings.
"This full service includes substantial online marketing for each property via property portals and other internet based marketing channels. Additionally, it may also include significant promotion in newspapers and magazines, which consequently attract purchasers from different sources. Plus, they will have local property knowledge and will only get paid if the house sells at an acceptable figure."

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