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Should You Use an Online Agent to Sell Your Property?

Whether it’s ordering your weekly shopping, watching television or booking your holiday, in recent years people have become more accustomed to doing things online. It’s perhaps no surprise then that some people have been willing to try selling their home using an online agent.

So what are the benefits of selling your home through an online agent, and what are the things that you would need to be wary of?

Why People Choose an Online Agent

Before going any further, it’s probably worth pointing out that these days most agents are online. Warners are classed as a traditional estate agent, but the homes we sell are all marketed on all of the major property websites and sellers and buyers can all get in touch with us via email or through our website.

When people talk about "online agents" what they tend to mean is an agent that handles most communication with sellers and buyers online, and that doesn’t offer some of the things a more traditional agent does, like a high street office or locally based staff.

The main reason people will choose an online agent therefore tends to come down to cost. Online agents often advertise very low fees and - whilst these seldom include costs like the Home Report, conveyancing fee or other outlays – what you pay them will generally be less than the amount that you would pay a traditional agent.

Beyond that, the other benefit that online agents tend to promote is that they will put you 'in control' of your sale, allowing you to liaise directly with potential buyers and arrange viewings.

The Drawbacks of Using an Online Agent

Whilst there are some attractions to using an online agent, as you would probably expect there are also some drawbacks. In the first instance, online agents tend not to be able to get your property the same exposure that you would get from a traditional agent. Crucially, if you are selling in Edinburgh, the Lothians or Fife, they won’t be able to advertise your property on and in The ESPC Paper.

This is particularly important as ESPC is still where most buyers in the area will look when they are hunting for a property. At Warners we market our properties on a number of other websites – including Rightmove, Zoopla, s1homes and PrimeLocation – but the majority of our enquiries from buyers come from people looking on ESPC.

It goes without saying that being seen by as many buyers as possible is vital if you want to get the best price for your property, so this additional exposure is crucial. It makes little sense to save a few hundred pounds in the fee you pay an estate agent, only to accept an offer that is several thousand pounds lower than you would have been able to get by using an agent offering a more complete service.

You’ll also find in many cases that the support staff with online agents are based down south and are not familiar with the Scottish market in general, never mind the specific conditions in your local area. Even if an online agent says they have local staff, what they often mean is that the person who values your property is based locally.

The staff who handle negotiations with potential buyers will usually be based elsewhere and have little knowledge of what constitutes a good offer for your property. A good, experienced negotiator with in-depth knowledge of the local area can easily help you to secure a much higher price for your property, and this is something that most online agents simply can’t offer. 

Finally, while the idea of being ‘put in control’ of arranging things like viewings may sound great, in practice it just means that you end up doing a lot of work that your estate agent should be doing for you. If you went to a restaurant where they offered to put you in control of making your meal, you might wonder what exactly the chef is doing to earn his money! Moving home can be hectic enough without having to do work that you should expect someone else to do for you.

Making an Informed Choice

It would be perfectly reasonable of course for you to read this and think “well, they would say that”. Warners is a full-service estate agent. We believe that this puts us in a better position to get you the best price for your property, and we can back this up with hard evidence.

If you are considering using an online agent the important thing is that you are in possession of all of the facts. You’re trusting them with getting you the best price for one of your most, if not your most valuable asset so be sure to ask all of the right questions.

Will they be able to market your home in the places where buyers are actually looking? Where will the people who negotiate offers for you be based and what is their background and experience? Will negotiations be handled by one dedicated expert, or will it just be down to whoever happens to answer the phone on that particular day?

Most importantly, what evidence do they have to show that they will actually be able to get you the best price for properties in your area?

If you are thinking of selling a property and have questions about the market, how Warners can help to get you the best price for your property, or anything else, feel free to contact us on 0131 667 0232, or by email and one of our team will be delighted to help.

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