The difference between an Online Estate Agent and High Street

2018 saw a roller coaster ride within the online estate agency world in the UK with continued expansion with ongoing debts  mounting of PurpleBricks to the fast growing and national awareness of Emoov with £millions invested via Crowdcube and then its almost immediate crash and burn in to administration.

It was all geared up to the High Street Estate Agents having to take a massive hit and loss of business, though it seems that online vs high street really isn’t that Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield showdown which was expected – High street estate agencies are still about and though some may have fallen as the market adjusts to economic issues such as Brexit, many are still in growth / expansion mode.

So, what exactly is the difference between a High Street Estate Agency compared to an Online / Hybrid Estate Agency? Let us take a brief look:

The main difference is that high street offers a full face-to-face service that can guide the seller from start to finish and will charge only upon a successful completion of a sale. An online estate agency will likely make you pay a fixed one-off upfront cost (non-refundable), which is often a lot cheaper compared to high street agency commission rates, though their local knowledge is likely to be less comprehensive.

Pros and Cons are listed below

High Street Estate Agents:

  • Will have usually a prominent high street presence helping to attract local footfall.
  • Will likely advertise more locally such as newspapers / events etc.
  • Will charge a set fee commission rate upon completion ranging usually from 1% – 2.5%.
  • Will have a more in-depth knowledge of the local area.
  • Will offer a hands on approach to selling / renting of property from beginning to end.
  • Some high street estate agents are now offering special online only packages to run alongside their own traditional services.

Online Estate Agents:

  • Will charge a much smaller upfront fee to sell your property.
  • Will likely charge for additional services such as managing viewings / photography.
  • Will usually allow you to work with other estate agents in order to sell your property, ie no multi agency restrictions.
  • No real after sales service.
  • Online estate agency is a trend and people see it as an opportunity to reduce costs for seller and importantly for the buyer too as less commission is being paid out so offers more likely to be accepted.

So now you know which route you want to take, which agency should you work with?

  • A great way to start your research is on Google & the main property portals such as Zoopla/Rightmove. See which agencies are most prominent online which will tell you how well your property will be advertised and likely to be found by buyers.
  • Check the smaller print – Whoever you run with, check the terms and conditions so you understand fully what you are paying for – Do not be afraid to ask the agent questions.
  • Check reviews! There are many concepts running that offer reviews of estate agents across the UK, do a simple check on Google for reviews and see what comments are being left and obviously look to opt for the ones with the better and more genuine ratings.
  • What is selling locally, who seems to be busy? A simple drive around your local area will no doubt mean plenty of for sale / sold signs being seen – Which agents seem to be the most popular?


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