By operating online (without costly high street premises) and taking advantage of Rightmove and Zoopla's dominance when it comes to consumers' property searching habits, these digital operators have been able to sell homes for up-front fixed fees at a lower price point than the traditional commission fee
associated with high street agents.
Despite the claims to save property sellers thousands of pounds, it’s estimated that online agents only have around 5% market share. That’s not to say, however, that some agents haven’t taken the market by storm with their low-cost alternative and innovative marketing campaigns.
Below we take a closer look at three of the biggest online players and analyse what exactly they’re offering you for your money…
Probably the best-known of the online agents, Purplebricks was launched by the Bruce brothers in 2012 and hasn't looked back since. Following a stock market float in December 2015, Purplebricks has since expanded to Australia and the United States.
An up-front fee of £849 or £1,199 in London and the surrounding areas. Sellers can defer their fee until their property sells (or after 10 months) if they use Purplebricks' conveyancing services.
What do you get?
A 'Local Property Expert' will manage your sale from valuation to completion. They'll take photographs and provide a floor plan, property description and For Sale board. Your property will be advertised on the major property portals and you'll get access to social media marketing and a post-sale support team. If you want Purplebricks to carry out your viewings, you'll need to pay an additional £300 fee.
Launched in 2015 and originally standing for Your Local Property Agent, YOPA soon changed its acronym to Your Property Agent. The agency has received a lot of investment, including funds from traditional agency Savills and the Daily Mail and General Trust. In a bid to rival the already established Purplebricks, YOPA launched a series of TV ads in September 2016 starring the Village People of YMCA fame.
You can sell with YOPA for an up-front fee of £839 - with the option to pay later if you use its conveyancing services. The agency also recently launched a more traditional no sale, no fee option which costs £1,495.
What do you get?
Once instructed, a local YOPA agent will prepare your home's advert which will include photos, a floorplan and description. You’ll be provided with a For Sale board and your home will then be listed on portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla. Sellers are required to pay additional fees for viewings, Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) and premium portal listings.
One of the more established operators, HouseSimple has been around since 2007. Like YOPA, it has also received backing from investors - most notably Sir Charles Dunstone, the founder of the Carphone Warehouse. HouseSimple has won several industry awards and also run numerous TV advertising campaigns.
Sellers can pay an up-front fee of £695 to sell with HouseSimple or choose a no sale, no fee option of £1,495.
What do you get?
Whatever package you choose, if you sell with HouseSimple you'll get a free seven-day trial, photography, floorplans, a For Sale board and portal advertising. The agency will also provide you with a dedicated agent and support you when it comes to negotiation and sales progression. There are additional fees for viewings, mortgage broking, EPCs, premium portal listings and Scottish home reports.
Choosing what’s right for you
When you come to sell your home and choosing which agent to go to market with, it’s vital that you assess all the options and work out which route is best for your specific needs.
You may want to take a traditional hands-off approach and instruct a local high street agent who is likely to charge you a commission fee of around 1% when you sell (although many firms now offer fixed fees too), or you may want to manage more of the process yourself and opt for an online or hybrid estate agent to sell your home.
Many traditional high street firms pride themselves on their levels of customer service and sales progression. If you sell with a traditional agent, you may not be required to do as much work compared to selling with an online operator. What's more, it's high likely accompanied viewings will be included as part of your package.
If the high street agent you choose to sell with has a traditional no sale, no fee commission pricing structure, they arguably have more incentive to sell your home quickly and for the highest price possible. If they don't sell your home, they don't get paid and the more they sell it for, the more they earn through commission.
Whatever you decide, do your research and make sure you know what you’re going to be getting for your money. With so many estate agency models and payment options available, now is certainly a great time to be a property seller.