Let me start with a truism – the best estate agent to sell your home is the one who achieves the highest price.
Now who will achieve that largely depends on who you trust most – I’ve sold with hybrid, traditional and an online estate agent.
So should you use an online estate agent?
If your property is valued between £280,000 to £310,000, the agency fee is largely moot.
Let me explain why.
That estate agency who charges 1% to 1.5% plus VAT with nothing to pay upfront will collect commission of £3600 to £5400 if the property sells for £300,000.
An online estate agent may charge around £1000 upfront or deferred and may or may not achieve £300,000.
I realise I’m playing devil’s advocate having bought and sold properties through all three routes.
But I would argue that, usually, a traditional high street agent may be considered to have greater motivation to see a sale through to exchange and completion – because if they don’t, they collect zero commission.
This is an argument used by the so-called traditional agents to explain that they are more motivated.
There’s some problems though, in my experience, with this approach. I’ve experienced frustration with high street estate agents overvaluing and under-delivering repeatedly and I can’t say I felt a greater sense of urgency from the traditional estate agents I’ve used in the past (with one exception – in Leek, Staffordshire) to the online estate agent we used recently.
Similarly, having sold our property in 2016, through a purely online model (not the Watchdog attendees), I can’t say that this was a smash and grab exercise by this well-known company.
Okay, they left the writing of property particulars to me, and outsourced photography, but they delivered online, on the portals and on active social media channels and we achieved a selling price higher than the valuation offered by two local estate agents.
Our property brochure was, to put it bluntly, in a different league to other houses being marketed in the area – so much so that our neighbour switched to the same online estate agents and sold quickly too at a higher price than expected, I believe.
Some may argue that as long as your property is on Rightmove and Zoopla, it will sell.
Again, something of a fallacy.
43% of property sales stem from portals.
Leaving 57% sold elsewhere.
Having worked now for the best part of three years with content marketing and social media marketing for traditional, hybrid and purely online estate agents and letting agents across the country, I’d argue that it’s a combination of factors.
- The obvious silver bullet of selling is price. Get the asking price right and a property should sell. You have to get it right too at the outset as the first two weeks can make or break a sale.
- Estate agency ability. Like any walk of life, like any job, some estate agents are excellent – whether purely as an online estate agent, or on the high street or in a commercial unit – some aren’t. The ones I work for now are people I’d happily market my home with, even though the nearest is 50 miles away!
- The silent sentry of the For Sale board. We sold with a board going up – to people three doors away. A post and For Sale sign alerts people to the fact that you’re looking to move and directs them to make enquiries – whether that’s to the local agent or one based 200 miles distant.
- Presentation of particulars. The photographer who did our photos and floorplan was a professional freelance photographer – not someone armed with a bridge camera or smartphone. I wrote the description admittedly, which I obviously enjoyed doing, and I proofread the neighbour when he switched (for no fee too!)
- Being in a state of constant alert. By this, I don’t mean watching Twitter for Donald Trump meltdowns but ready for viewings. It was a Forth Road Bridge operation for a few months for us – keeping the house prepared for a hypothetical hour’s notice from the agent. It worked too. We sold, having had three separate viewers – and the house was showhome condition across the seven occasions of second, third and fourth visits. Estate agents shouldn’t have to tell you to clean up? We didn’t need telling. It’s common sense?
There’s other factors too beyond this – the speed with which agents respond to queries, how viewings are conducted, location, the use of social media and email campaigns, but I’d say price and presentation overarch everything.
Get the price right, the brochure spot on and buyers will materialise – regardless of whether you’re selling with a local agent on the high street, a hybrid with local experts, or a purely online model.