Which is better: an online or a local estate agent?

May 18, 2017

Where are you reading this from? Are you sat at your computer at home, or are you spending the weekend in an exotic location? Perhaps you’re having a coffee in a local cafe, or you’re using data on your phone in foreign lands?

We all find and read information on the go, and from sources all over the world. We are digital people living in a digital age. So it’s no surprise that there’s been a growth in online estate agency over the past few years.

Despite this, there are still lots of traditional estate agents offering local services, so it can be tricky deciding who to use. Ultimately, it boils down to personal preference: which is best for you?

Here are a few key points to consider:

1. Marketing. Most serious house hunters now start their search online using one of the major property portals. Both local and online estate agents use these sites, so there’s not much difference here. However, before appointing an agency, make sure that you check the style and age of their live listings. This is the best way of assessing the quality of your future marketing partner(s).

2. Getting the price right. An online agency, normally based in a call centre with field representatives, will value your house using market data. This is a valuable starting point but some properties – particularly more unusual homes – benefit from a local point of contact who can get the price right for the area. It helps if your valuer knows the local market and which schools, streets and locations are most desirable.

3. Widening your home’s reach. One of the main benefits of a local agent, with several properties in the same area, is the possibility of cross-referrals. Remember that cross-selling can be key for finding a buyer – you want as many proceedable people looking at your house as possible, even if yours wasn't the one that initially caught their eye. This is more difficult for online agents who typically only have a handful of properties in a given area.​

4. Contact and support. An online agent can be a good choice if you have the time, expertise and confidence to handle more of the sale yourself. You can’t walk into their office to discuss your sale, and you usually conduct your own viewings. Make sure you feel comfortable before you commit – selling a house, and negotiating a deal, is often harder than it looks!

5. Cost. This is usually cited as the main benefit of online agents. High street agencies typically charge c.1.5% of the sale price, whilst online agents charge a flat fee of between £495 and £995. Depending on the value of your property, this can mean a significant saving! But it’s worth emphasising that a lot of online fees are payable upfront – and might not lead to the best outcome, or a quick sale.

At Open Door, we offer both local estate agency and online property auctions – a unique combination! As a result, we believe that our model is accessible to everyone and use a mixture of online marketing, local knowledge and a quick average selling time (6 to 8 weeks) to protect our vendors and get them the best possible sale price.

If you’d like to speak to our team about recent sales in nearby areas, please get in touch and we’ll set up a call as soon as possible.