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    Online Estate Agents - Advantages and Disadvantages

    By The reallymoving Team Updated 11th Apr, 2024

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of using an online estate agent, compared to a high street firm?

    Online Estate Agents - Advantages and Disadvantages

    Why should I consider an online estate agent?

    The main attraction of using an online estate agency is the low cost. Many sellers are saving hundreds, if not thousands of pounds when by-passing high street agents and advertising online.

    Estate agents fees vary from between 1.5%-4% of the sales value, this price is before VAT. So on a house sale of £300,000, the seller will be charged a minimum of £4,500 plus VAT. This is rather a steep price when compared to a comprehensive online package for around £400.

    What are the advantages of online estate agents?

    As mentioned above, the biggest draw is the reduction in agency fees but there are other advantages to using an online agent.

    The internet is a 24/7 service which means it is essentially open for business around the clock. Potential buyers are available to view your property all day and night and so you are less likely to miss out on a sale. Additionally the internet is wide reaching and so your property can be viewed all over the world at any time.

    The internet is a fast and easy solution for house searching. Thanks to fast broadband, buyers and sellers can be connected within milliseconds.

    Most buyers will tend to use Rightmove or Zoopla when they think about moving home. Unlike private listings or “do-it yourself” websites, online agencies can advertise on these sites and so you still reach thousands of potential buyers at the click of a few buttons.

    If you are happy to be in control of the house selling process, with more of a secondary support network from your online estate agent, who will put the house on the market, organise viewings and broker the deal, with you being the face of your property, then this is probably a great option for you.

    What are the disadvantages of online estate agents?

    There are disadvantages to using an online estate agency. With most online systems, you may need to conduct the viewings yourself, carry out the negotiations and monitor the sale process from offer through to completion. Before choosing an online estate agency you should consider your lifestyle and if you have the time to dedicate to your house sale.

    Whilst the people working on selling your home will be estate agents, they will not be local to you. Local knowledge is one of the advantages of a traditional high street estate agent, as they know what sells in your areas, what the pricing should be, and may know potential buyers looking for what you have to sell.

    The different ways estate agents and online agents charge for their services may also make a difference to how much you get for your property. As a traditional agent gets a percentage of the sale price, they will push to ensure you get the highest price possible. An online estate agent does not have that investment.

    Which are the best online estate agents?

    When deciding which company to list your property with, you should consider the following factors.

    • Will your property be uploaded to major portals such as Rightmove or Zoopla?
    • What services are included?
    • Are they a well-established company?
    • Are they members of the Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services or the National Association of Estate Agents.ve house

    Do online agencies have to adhere to any code of conduct?

    Both high street agencies and online estate agents must comply with the Estate Agents Act.  http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1979/38

    This means that online agents must do the following things.

    • Give clients clear and written information about fees
    • Tell clients promptly about all offers made
    • Comply with money laundering legislation

    Failure to do adhere to this criteria may result in a ban from estate agency work.

    You may also wish to read our article 'How to sell your house without an estate agent" for further tips and links.

    You can also compare agents fees via Netanagent

    The safety element

    Much like 'sell your own home' websites, you are responsible for showing strangers around your home, which does carry with it a certain level of risk. In theory, online estate agents have the details of the people visiting, offering a level of protection, but some people may feel uncomfortable about this. 

    Both options have advantages and disadvantages, with an online estate agent offering a severely reduced rate, but the time required from you to be active and responsible for the sale is the other side of the coin. Overall, it comes down to time versus money – how much of either do you have to spend, and which is more valuable to you?

    Updated September 2017

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