Are Online Estate Agents the future for selling and renting property?

Posted on 31st October 2016

Some might find it quite ironic that in the 21st century the best way to sell four brick walls and a roof is through online estate agents – which pride themselves on not having those walls and roofs to keep down costs.

By not possessing physical premises and the associated overheads, such as a fleet of vehicles and utility bills, the online agent can pass on savings to the customer. That battle for the market with traditional, high street agents has been branded by some as the ‘clicks vs bricks’ war, and is currently heading in only one direction.

To take advantage, one has to prepare their home as if selling it traditionally. Repairs and redecoration to bring it up to scratch are paramount, because anything that may show up as a negative factor on photographs, in a newspaper or poster will also show up online.

Once you’re happy for it to go on the market, get in touch with the agent. Check where your property will be placed, as most will go for giants such as Rightmove and Zoopla which attract 70 and 40 million viewers a month respectively.

If, however, you plump for an agent that works with newcomer the property will only be placed on its website and one of the others, not both. That may be an advantage if Onthemarket, which is run by a group of high-street agents itself, grows to challenge its older and more established rivals but currently the appeal and effectiveness of Rightmove and Zoopla far outweigh Onthemarket.

Where a high street agent could charge anywhere from 1-4% of the sales price, an online agent will offer a sales package for a fixed fee. We’re assuming the property will be gone well before nine months, and that assumption is predicated by the fact that you wish to sell quickly so you’ve not gone for a silly price. An online estate agent will analyse properties similar to yours, in a similar location, and give you an idea of asking price having completed a visit and based on all of the same data that a high street agent would use. Of course, you ultimately set the price yourself, but if time is of the essence cutting the asking price could pay dividends.

You’ll receive regular updates about viewing requests. You’ll occasionally need to conduct viewings yourself, so you should try to get them conducted early in the process. The agent will help arrange the appointments and show people around. From there the process continues with offers and ultimately exchanges of contracts if everything goes well.

Where it does differ is through the communication methods; feedback is faster, allowing direct communication between seller and buyer and hopefully faster resolution of issues. This speed is representative of the 21st Century advantages of technology – ones that could see you sell your property in a matter of weeks rather than months.

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