High Street V Online

  High Street V Online  Selling Your Home:    
 The pros outweigh the cons of using a traditional high street estate agent    

Selling Your Home: The pros outweigh the cons of using a traditional high street estate agent 

Another day and another claim that high street estate agents will no longer exist, in favour of the internet.  However, not everyone is so sure that the future for house sales is online.    Tom Ward, director of our Fulham office, gives us his views on why it still makes sense to use the expertise of a traditional estate agent.

Estate agency is essentially a people business and it is ALL the work between valuing and completion – and the aggravation involved during this process – where an estate agent is invaluable and which, in my view, the internet can never hope to replace.  And whilst competition is a necessary ‘evil’, the business of buying and selling a home is much more than simply putting a price on bricks and mortar – it is a highly personal and emotional experience. 

The internet is certainly a useful buying and selling tool and has usurped the high street in many sectors, and although there are ‘savings’ to be made when using an online agent in the house-selling process,  not everyone is happy to have the biggest financial transaction of their lives conducted online.  Generally speaking, online agents don’t host viewings, a responsibility many vendors don’t want and are unable to manage around their working hours.  People like being able to walk into a shop and speak to an agent face to face, hand over a set of keys and let them get on with it. 

While online services charge a lower fee, a good high street agent adds significant value by offering professional advice based on experience and local knowledge - from getting the best price for the vendor during the negotiation process to pushing the sale through by dealing with any problems that crop up with solicitors or mortgage applications.

There are probably four main reasons why employing a high street agent can be worthwhile: getting an accurate valuation,knowing potential buyers, negotiating a price and chasing an agreed sale through to completion.

Getting an accurate valuation -  A local high street agent will know the correct price for a certain street, and what properties are selling well at a given time.  An online agent working remotely won’t have the same breadth of knowledge of the local market, such as recent sales and future developments, and if they value your property inaccurately, you could sell too cheaply, or fail to find a buyer at all.

Knowing potential buyers - .  The best way to secure the fastest sale at the highest price is to expose the property to the maximum number of well qualified active buyers.  A local high street agent has access to such a resource and intimately understands your buyers and knows precisely the right ones to bring round – the best ones often being those who would probably not have viewed the property unprompted.  Also, one of the most overlooked truths of estate agency is that people tend not to buy the property about which they enquired, but usually another one the agent offered them following their enquiry, that was better suited to their needs.

Negotiating a price - the experience, knowledge and network of contacts that is provided by a high street estate agent can not only secure a premium for your property but also find a buyer in the shortest possible time.  We recently saw a property listed with an online agency at an asking price of £699,950, realising the vendor was underselling their property we approached them and, once formally instructed, managed to achieve £795,000, thus securing £100,000 over the original listing price.  As you can imagine the vendor very much appreciated the added value of our local knowledge.  We also recently sold a property that had been listed with an online agency but the vendor was finding it difficult to accommodate viewings and had not had an offer.  We were able to provide both and agreed a price at the asking price within ten days of the instruction.

Chasing an agreed sale through to completion - this is probably the biggest point of all.  It is not widely stated but many more sales would not reach the finishing line were it not for the local knowledge and skillset that a high street agent provides as part of their service.  Where high street agents really earn their fee is at this stage of the process and managing emotion, expectation, solicitors, surveyors, IFA etc.. Plus you can meet your estate agent in person throughout the process to discuss any issues or problems.

At the end of the day, when picking an agent that is right for you most people want only two things – as little hassle as possible and maximising the best price.  Using an online agent will often lead to a lower price but also the process may well be longer and present more difficulties along the way.  Traditional estate agents have been a vendor’s first port of call for a long time and whilst they do charge more for their service, customers have peace of mind knowing that a well-established expert is working for them.  Like many things in life you generally get what you pay for.