Considering Using an Online Estate Agent? – What to Look Out For

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Whether it's cost, convenience or control, several factors can make online estate agents an enticing choice over their high street counterparts. Even more so in this increasingly digital age where it's fast becoming the norm to meet, do business and even relax virtually. Before you dive straight into the first online estate agent served up by your search engine, however, there's a few things to consider.

Not all online estate agents are made equal, and it's important that you're armed with the knowledge and know-how to discern which service, if any, is right for your needs. Here are key points that'll determine where best to spend your money when it comes to selling your property online.

Fees

Tending towards fixed fees instead of commission, online real estate agent solutions can end up saving you significant amounts of money, especially if you're looking to sell a high value property. However, most online real estate agents also offer paid extras on top of their baseline service which can drastically increase, and in some cases multiply the price of their service. While it's true that these extras are optional, you'll still be receiving an incomplete service by declining them. Plus, with a fixed upfront fee, you'll pay in full even if your property doesn't end up selling. For a guaranteed, fee-free way to sell your property online, consider contacting a residential property buyer. LDN Properties provide such a service: they're a respected and accredited cash property buyer that will buy your house in a timescale that suits you and your needs.

Accreditation

There are truly a wealth of options out there for people looking to sell their property with an online estate agent, and without face-to-face interaction it can be hard to tell the trustworthy organisations apart from the not-so-trustworthy ones. Thankfully, there's a quick way to tell if any potential estate agent is reliable or not: accreditation. In the UK, Propertymark's National Association of Estate Agents is the leading regulatory body in charge of protecting both buyers and sellers. If an online estate agent displays the Propertymark NAEA logo, you can be confident in their reputation and legitimacy. Clear signs of affiliation with organisations like The Property Ombudsman (TPO) are also good indicators that an estate agent can be trusted to represent your property.

The Package's Extras<

As mentioned, online estate agents usually offer additional services on top of their standard package. Despite being optional, these extras can often include important parts of the real estate process (like accompanied viewings) and eschewing them can leave you without the support you need. The baseline package offered can vary from company to company, so it's worth making sure that you're not paying for an online real estate package that's missing a component you expect and/or require.

On the other hand, many prospective sellers feel happier without the backing of real estate professionals; they're confident in their ability to sell their own property. For these individuals, an online estate agent with minimal support at a minimal cost would be ideal.

Valuation Process

Every property is unique; some houses need to be seen in-person in order for their value to be fully appreciated. That's why many online estate agents can inadvertently undervalue properties: the reliance on online data for valuation (as used by many online estate agents) doesn't take into account many unique features of a property, its various assets or its specific location. That's why you may want to ensure that any online estate agent you choose offers in-person valuations and doesn't generate a figure solely based on gathered data. You want your property to be valued on its own merits, not stuck with an arbitrary figure pulled out from a collection of accumulated data and statistics.

Average Final Sold Price

Always be sure to check your chosen online estate agent's average level of success in achieving their clients' initial asking price. Web-based estate agents, unlike their bricks and mortar competitors, typically don't earn commission on their client's property's final sale price. While this initially sounds inarguably positive - an extra 1-3% in the seller's pocket that would have otherwise been the estate agent's - it comes with a caveat. Some claim that, without commission, there's less incentive for the estate agent to achieve the highest sale price for every property. This makes it crucial to pick estate agents that, on average, sell houses as close to their clients' asking price as possible.

Method of Communication

By opting for an online estate agent, you could miss out on the face-to-face time that's core to the traditional estate agent experience, but that doesn't mean you'll be completely alone. Modern technology means that there are a myriad of ways to keep in regular contact with your estate agent contact: email, phone, web-messaging apps (like WhatsApp) and even video calling services. When choosing your online estate agent, pay attention to the methods of communication they support. Some offer face-to-face meetings with local property experts, others don't; some provide 24/7 support, but not all will have the means. Make sure that you're happy with the style, frequency and intimacy of communication offered by your chosen online estate agent.

The Final Word<

For people happy to get more hands-on with selling their property, online estate agents are a superb choice. As a result of leaving more responsibility (and freedom) to the homeowner, online estate agents tend to avoid charging commission and therefore require a smaller overall cost for their services than high street estate agents.

Despite the temptation of maximising savings, it's still important that you choose an online estate agent that provides the right kind of support for your specific needs, even if it's not necessarily the cheapest. Similarly, choosing a more expensive but higher-performing estate agent can sometimes work out more beneficial financially in the long run, as they stand to net you a higher sale price for your property.