Internet Only Estate Agents, how do I choose which Online Estate Agents when selling my House Online?

internet only estate agents

Selling your house has never been easier in today’s market as the home seller has so much choice. Should I sell my house online via internet only estate agents or through the more traditional route?

By using the more traditional route you will have a few options of local estate agents. If you live in a village or town you may have a possible four to five local high street agents. If you live in a city you may have up to ten or more estate agents that cover your area. So whilst you have choice it can normally be quite easily narrowed down to two or three agents and you can then ask them round for a valuation.

But say you wanted to sell your own property by using one of the online estate agents. How do you find the best online estate agent that suits your needs when there are so many to choose from?

When looking for an online agent to help sell and represent your property online the first thing you will do is a search of the Internet. You will find pages and pages of results and most pages will be filled with adverts from many of the different internet based agents as well as the listings. How do you choose from so many sites? How do you know which one is right for you?

Some online agents are advertising their services through TV, radio or national and local newspapers which offer great exposure for what that particular company has to offer. But how do you find the right online estate agency for you? It is simply through research, word of mouth and trustable testimonials. With so much choice you can find yourself over-paying on a service that you do not need or paying for a monthly service that you are tied into simply because the initial offer enticed you and you are now stuck feeling you should have researched better. Could it be that you have chosen an agent because you believe that the name is important so you pay a premium for that name and brand but the service levels were not what you expected? Selling your home is as expensive as you want it to be. There are so many effective options and solutions out there it just takes time and research in finding them.

It is easy to avoid a bad high street agent as they are usually spoken of through friends and family who have had or know someone who has received a bad experience. So with over hundreds of online house selling sites which are linked to the likes of Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation what should you look out for in order to avoid using a bad one?

Tips for finding your ideal Online Estate Agents Platform

  1. Online Estate Agents Reviews. It is important to look through the reviews; most sites have their reviews or testimonials built within the website. It is of course difficult to know if a company has genuine reviews or not but most respectable internet agent’s use a third party company to gather their reviews for them. Look in detail; are there only reviews from people who have sold their properties? Well they are all likely to be happy. Are there reviews from people who are currently using the service? If so, what are they saying about the service? If there is not this type of review, why is that? Is the agent trying to keep that information away from you because it will show the true reflection of their service?
  1. The people. Can you see the team or names of the people working for the company? Most reputable agencies, whether they are online or on the high street, have the team visible on their websites as this is a way of showing trust and accountability. That the team are here and ready to serve you and stand by the values and services that are offered by the agency. Usually sites that do not have their team available to see either have something to hide or don not think about putting the customer first.
  1. Who are they affiliated too. In order to be a credible estate agent there are many different qualifications or accredited bodies that you can become a member of. It is important you check this out via the website. The main one to look out for is The Property Ombudsman, this is the governing body that all agents have to adhere to and be a member of by law. If an agent is not a member of this you will not be able to list your property on such sites like Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation. If you would like to be extra sure you can check the Ombudsman’s website where all members are listed and can be found by simply putting the companies name in their registered list.
  1. Where do they state they advertise you property.When you have made the decision to sell your house privately and not the more traditional route, you want to make sure that your property will appear on Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation the biggest property portals on the market. This is where you will get the maximum exposure needed to enable you to sell your property. Check the major property portals websites and see if the online agent you are interested in using is on there and listing properties. Check the current stock level, more properties does not necessarily mean that they are more likely to sell your property. Often it is the other way around!
  1. Terms and Conditions. How often have you bought something online and never read the terms and conditions? If like me, it is often when it comes to purchasing online that it is even more important to check the small print. Usually companies have information in the terms and conditions that are standard for the industry they are in and to protect themselves from differing events should they occur. It is through this that you can identify which company you will want to give your money to or which you feel safer with. I would not necessarily suggest you read through the whole T&C’s document but reading the important things such as refund policies, what you are liable for and what protection or guarantees if any are given by the agent can give you a real overview of that particular company.
  1. Privacy Policy. Most e-commerce or Internet based estate agents will have a privacy policy. Those whose website receive or contain user information either through a login area or account setup will most definitely have a privacy policy that lets you know what they do with your information from a legal prospective. It is important to check this as you would not what your personal information being shared with third parties companies or used for marketing purposes.
  1. Purchasing one of their services. After all the research you have done so far wouldn’t it be a disappointment that during the purchase of your product you find the payment service not secure or different from other services you have used before. Make sure the website offers a different variety of payment channels from reputable payments methods such as PayPal, World Pay and Sage and that the information is data protected. Is the information the website is asking you for more than what you would expect? For example, the full security number on the back of your card. Remember you only have to give the last 3 digits. What about your personal information? It is likely that online agents will ask you for quite a bit of information at the payment stage so watch out for services that do not and only simply ask you for an email address and password.
  1. Use a credit card. When purchasing online it is always best to use a credit card. It offers better protection should you purchase a product through a website that was a scam or you bought a product that you have not used and the company is refusing to offer you a refund. If you do not own a credit card it is still fine to make a purchase simply make sure of the tips we have provided especially verifying the terms and conditions in advance.
  1. Verify your account and service. Most credible companies want to protect their website and have a high standard that they wish to maintain. They uphold this by asking you to verify the details you have given through your email account when you purchase a service or enter your details to create an account. It is important to note that if a company is checking on who is using their services that it is an indication of care towards individuals they represent and who are purchasing their products.
  1. Being cautious and trusting your instinct. For whatever reasons you come to a decision when choosing your online agent make sure you have done your research thoroughly. If you have warning signs the best thing to do is look for another agency as it is better to be safe than sorry.

Is price a factor when choosing which Online Property Agent to use?

Ever heard of the phrase ‘if it sounds too good to be true it probably is’?

Not in this case. Most of our clients have found that using an Internet based estate agents can be rewarding when selling their property online. It offers huge savings which our customers benefit from and if you did all the checks on our website, I do not think we would fail on any of the tips we have just provided. What if a company is offering the service for so much less than the rest of the market? Does it mean that they offer a lesser service and therefore unlikely to sell my property online?

It is important to note how a company comes to pricing its products and services so you know exactly what you are paying for. Most companies have fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs are those which cannot really be adjusted within the service offered to its clients such as the costs involved in listing on Rightmove or Zoopla. Variable costs are those that can change and often these costs are not really about the service the company offers but more so how they attract you in the first place, the example here is marketing. These are all costs that have to be paid for and naturally companies will pass those costs onto its clients so they will set a price that they would need to achieve for that particular product reflective on both the fixed and variable costs.

Let’s look at the basis in which Internet Estate Agents were formed in terms of costs. Your local high street agent charges you a commission fee in the thousands because of its overheads; they often have a number of shop fronts and a large number of staff with vehicles because they come around to do your viewings. Online estate agents do not have a number of shop fronts as they usually can run from a single office. They do have staff but often do not need vehicles to carry out the viewings as this is passed onto the owner, hence why you save thousands when selling with an online property agent.

So when looking to choose estate agents online what determines the price?

  1. High cost Online Agents. Often when using a recognised company it will come at a cost, ensuring a brand is well seen will mean large marketing budgets. Remember the points about variable and fixed costs, marketing is a variable cost that is often not to the clients benefit but has to be paid for and unfortunately is often at the expense of its clients. Ok I would agree that £600.00 is much less than £5,184.00, which is roughly the average fee you will pay to a high street agent across the UK, but it might not even need to cost you as much as £600.00!
  1. Quality of service and product. Naturally if you saw a service for £249.00 and a similar service for £400.00 we tend to think that the lesser priced product or package will not be as good. What if the same service that the company who is charging £400.00 for only cost the other company £249.00? They would want to pass that saving onto you, no? Would then the cheaper online estate agents look better value for money as they are offering the same service but for less investment?
  1. Upfront or fees upon completion. Some UK online estate agents services charge similarly to high street estate agents in that you pay upon completion or sale of your property. More often the fee is much higher than what you would have paid should you have gone for the service upfront but still a saving to be made on the overall fees associated with the high street agent. The decision between upfront or upon completion fees are simply a matter of preference however I would suggest you do your research first as it is worth finding out how attractive property is in your area. If you are based in an area where properties often sell quickly, pay the upfront fee as chances are you are guaranteed to sell. If you are in an area where the property market is slower and you are unsure whether your property will sell then go for the fee upon completion option, however this will still depend on how attractive the upfront fee is in comparison.
  2. Offers and discounts. We are a nation that loves a good offer or discount and often we will bulk purchase if the offer is too good to turn down. The only way to bulk purchase when using an internet estate agents is if you have two or more properties to sell at that time. Such is the online competition that there are often discounts to be found helping you limit the risk of purchasing a package upfront.
  1. Being online is the service user friendly. Are you able to use the site on your mobile or tablet, so you can log into your account on the go and see the latest information about your property and feedback from viewings? It is important that the service and company you have entrusted to promote your property online is equipped well online. You do not want to find this out after you have paid so have a look at the website and functionality through various devices. Going back to variable and fixed costs, website development is a major part of the company’s service to you and can be both a fixed or variable cost. Being that you are looking to use a top online estate agents service you would expect them to be best in practice when it comes to the internet and their own website.
  1. A choice in a variety of services. Purchasing a package or service that you only need half of; why spend £600.00 when you only need half of the service? Look for a company that offers a one stop shop, an entry level that will allow your property to appear on the major portals Rightmove, Zoopla and Primelocation if you have the required information. What if you have listed your property and want extra exposure, you can add additional services as and when you want or need them. It is important that the service and company you choose is right for your needs but allows you flexibility if things change.

Can you really Sell Your House Fast and will this impact your decision?

Without offering your property well below market value, can you really sell your property fast or is it all complete nonsense? Should I avoid agents that state this or are they really telling the truth?

There are ways to improve the chances of selling your property, especially when considering how your property is being marketed regardless of whether it is by you or your agent. Your property needs to have professional photos so potential viewers can see your property in its best light, make sure the rooms are tidy and decluttered beforehand. Additions such as a floor plan and EPC, well the latter is a requirement by law, are vital tools. The properties description is important when written correctly. Is it a true reflection of the property? Does it highlight the features and benefits? These could include details on the local area, the fact the property is newly refurbished, room sizes, modern kitchen or bathroom, details of any fixtures and fittings you are including in the agreed sale.

Consider the Guide Price. It is a given that anyone selling wants to achieve the highest price possible but be careful not to over value your property. Buyers, where possible, do not want to pay over the market value so make sure you have your property valued by several agents to ensure you have an accurate asking price. It is also important for you to do some research within your area, see what properties have recently sold and get a feel for prices yourself as agents do not always get it right!

Following these simple tips will improve your chances of selling but it does not necessarily mean you will sell your home fast.

We have all heard and seen properties achieve over the market price or those which go under offer within a matter of days. Lovely when it happens but unfortunately these types of experiences are few are far between and are usually subject to area or market conditions, clearly not the norm for most UK properties on the market!

So can you really sell your house fast? It can and does happen but in most cases is not due to factors through which most agents can control but more so the reasons given above. For most of us the key is finding an agent or online platform that is focused on marketing your property to serious homebuyers giving you the best chance of selling.

So should I avoid agents that state ‘We can Sell Your Property Fast’?

I would not necessarily avoid these agents as they all use terminology to entice buyers to use their services and I am sure at some point over the years they have sold property faster than others so there is some truth in their statements. The importance is how do they go about selling your home, do they offer the different types of services we have highlighted? What do they offer that is different from the other agents and will that have an impact on your property and the type of buyers your property will attract? Were the properties that sold quickly just well below market value?

Selling property; some agents are better at it than others and it is about finding out why that is through asking the right questions. How many properties has your agency sold in the last 6 weeks or more accurately what percentage of their stock do they sell over a three month period? It is important you have a list of questions to hand and make sure you have asked or ideally successfully found the answers to all of them.

All in all, if an estate agent is stating they will sell your house quickly it is a sign of intent and to have that aim in mind, that at least they are ready for such a situation if it presents itself.

Selling your house privately, I want to sell my house but who should I trust?

Should I trust the Politicians and their stats? What about the High Street Agents are they trustworthy? What about trusting myself?

There is so much information to be found about the different ways you can sell your house on both the internet and by talking to family and friends. So who should you trust? Family and friends usually talk about the experiences they have had and when internet agents first came onto the scene it seemed that they would be here today and gone tomorrow, however this has not happened.

Selling your house yourself can come with risks and some people may advise you that it is better to stick to what you know and use a traditional agent, while others will potentially say what do you have to lose? Either way it is a risk that some feel is worth taking and others can be more reserved and go with what they feel safe with. Research is a key process and whilst you can read the statistics, the amounts of money you can save and the reasons for and against it is hard to trust what information you should believe, a bit like this EU referendum!

The type of property information that comes from the government and politicians is usually about house prices and what they would do to the housing market to either win your votes or achieve more money through stamp duty. You then have the property industries online and high street leading agents, those with the most money and power, whose opinions will more likely hit the national press. These will offer whichever information is relevant for what they want to tell the market place, whilst somehow promoting themselves through the process. This of course you may not take likely to so research and opinions from those around you will count more so but ultimately it is your decision to make from the sources available to you.

‘Your property will be your biggest asset, the single biggest investment you will ever make in your life’. Have you ever heard that? Well it is true, so who would you trust to look after your biggest asset?

Can we trust politicians?

We have not been able to trust politicians for years. They run our country surrounded by scandal after scandal, looking to benefit their own interests whilst not considering the views of the country.

Reviewing some of the scandals over the years; when politicians and other people in power were found to be claiming expenses and abusing tax payers’ money to the more recent loop holes for offshore tax evasion and the most powerful companies in the world being able to not pay the correct corporation tax.

Stats can be made to look good for whatever argument they wish to create and on this basis I would not trust them with my biggest asset.

Can we trust the High Street Agents?

Well let’s start off by saying they are nowhere near as bad as politicians! Most high street estate agents are run very well and offer great services. I do however feel that they are old and outdated, operating the same way today as they did 25 years ago, especially when the service still pays on a commission basis! Some may see this as the motivation for agents to sell your property, others may find that they say or do anything to ensure a sale, even if it is not with the seller’s best interests at heart.

For a business industry not to change with the modern times makes me suspect that there are better ways in which we can look after our biggest assets should we ever need to sell. Just because it is the way in which we have sold property for years does not mean it is the most effective solution in the long run and in today’s market.

Can we trust ourselves?

Can we trust ourselves with our biggest asset when selling a house in the UK? Well with modern technology and alternative solutions to the above I would say yes, yes we can. The internet is a wonderful tool in which we trust ourselves to purchase holiday packages, share important data about ourselves and even meet new people! Often we spend thousands online during the course of the year, should you therefore not trust yourself in selling your property online too? Have you ever considered how it would be if you could take control in selling your own house, your biggest asset and be able to be part of the actual sales process? Wouldn’t it be nice if you had an opportunity to meet the person or people who were looking to purchase your property? How about having open communication with your agency and buyer for complete trust and peace of mind throughout the sale? There are alternative solutions out there when selling your property which people are benefiting from every day by using services offered via Internet Estate Agents, so way not sign up to and sell your home online.

I would entrust my biggest asset with myself every single time as no one knows more about it than me! If I had the control along with support throughout the selling process I would 100% trust me!

 

Adam Pero

iMoveEstates LTD CEO

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