DIY/Online Agents vs Full Service High Street Agents

Full Service Estate AgentThe property market has been through some tough times in the last decade, but out the ashes of a global recession rose the online only agent. For as long as anyone can remember if you wanted to buy a property, you’d see you local estate agent. With the industry utilising technology more and more, it’s surly a matter of time before the whole platform moved online?

In my opinion (14 years in the property industry) this couldn’t be further from the truth. For me there are a number of reasons to chose a Full Service Agent over an online only one, of course I’m going to say this as I’m slightly bias but there is a genuine reason for this. The traditional route, offers you everything you Need and more!

Valuation – As a seller, the first and one of the most important pieces of information you’ll need is a realistic valuation/market appraisal. Normal practice would be to obtain three valuations from your local, full service (high street) agent. They should provide evidence of why they are valuing your property at the figure they are suggesting and possible even showing you similar properties they have sold themselves. An online (DIY) only agent, in a vast majority of cases, will just not know the regional values of your town or city. They most probably will not know if your property is in the catchment area for the best school in your town, they probably won’t know where the doctors, shops and amenities are. All key factors in pricing your most valuable asset.

Commission vs Fee – your traditional full service agent will charge you, typically a percentage of your property value. This can vary from region to region, for example where I am based the fees are between 1-1.25%. Where as an online only DIY agent will charge around £895 for only a certain time length e.g. 10 months of marketing. Now bare in mind the fee they charge is whether your property sells or not, where most High Street agents will work on a “no sale no fee” basis. Both routes will generally include listing on major property portals, a for sale board and pictures, but only using a full service agent will you get the whole package included in the price. For example, you wouldn’t expect to pay a High Street agent extra to do the viewings would you? No, exactly, most online only agents will charge up to £195 EXTRA to do the viewings on your property and sometimes there’s a limit on how many viewings this covers you for!

Let’s move onto services. It’s true that the internet is changing the way that property is sold and most agents have adjusted their services to capitalise on this accordingly. However, it’s sometimes the original/old school methods that can be the difference.

Pro-activeness: All agents will put your property on Rightmove, Zoopla etc.. that’s a given, but what happens after going live on web? I know that when my office takes on a new property to the market, the guys and girls in the office start to get on the phones and proactively tell the hundreds of buyers on our mailing register about this new property.

Most DIY agents do not have a database of applicants that they actively call and keep updated with new properties that comes on the market or are reduced. It’s simply put online and hope that someone see’s it.

The internet is just one of many forms of media at an agents disposal, don’t limit yourself to just one.

Face to face contact – It’s been said that people buy from people. I think this is so true! if your agent is able to build a relationship with your potential buyer it will certainly help!

When making a big and important purchase such as a house, buyers like to be able to speak to an expert, to question them before making their decision.

Negotiating the best price for you: When you receive an offer on your property you want to know that the agent that is dealing with the offer is working for you and not the buyer.

You want that agent to achieve the maximum price for your property. By paying a full service estate agent a percentage of the house sale you can rest assured they will extract the best possible offer from any potential buyer – the more you achieve the more commission they will earn.

If your paying a flat and up front fee, where’s the online agents incentive to get you the best price?! I’m even presuming that the agent deals with the offer. I’ve seen some online only agents charge extra for offer negotiations or they do not do this at all and your left to fend for yourself.

Sales progression: If you were to ask 100 home sellers what the most stressful part of moving is I’m sure they would say the solicitors stage. Achieving this stage is just the half way point.

You now have potentially, weeks possibly months of dealing with solicitors, buyers and surveyors. This can be stressful and time consuming. If you need assistance filling out your forms your high street agent can help, if you need documents hand delivered, scanned/emailed or posted your agent can help.

What’s more with one phone call to your agent, they can make the necessary enquiries to give you’ve full update when ever you ask. The call centre’s the DIY agents use are just unacceptable, often not knowing they whole chain or what stage things are at. To be honest why would they care? You’ve paid them already….


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