Before I start I should say that I believe the introduction of ‘Online Only’ agents into the estate agency market has provided some consumer benefits. However, this has only been in terms of influencing fees charged to the mid and upper value markets. You should now find that most ‘High Street’ agents will sell properties in the mid to higher price brackets at lower fixed fees or lower percentage fees because of the competition from the ‘Online Only’ agents and their fixed fees.
However, I would never advise anyone to instruct an ‘Online Only’ agent over a competitive and well run ‘High Street’ agent. This is simply because there is no comparison in terms of service and value for money between the two options. Compare an ‘Online Only’ agents service packages to the full-service packages by Fresh and you can see why. Certainly, it drives me mad to see some online only agents promoting ‘save on paying agents fees’. I actually think they could be the most expensive option you can take.
I would compare it to selecting a good accountant or solicitor. I think we all know that the cheapest options here could be the most expensive if through a lack of management, knowledge and skill they make the wrong decisions, give the wrong advice or do not dedicate enough time to the key stages of their work. It’s the same with trusting what could be your biggest financial asset to the perceived cheaper online option. It could work out very costly.
From speaking to fellow directors in the business we firmly believe that the best negotiators work in the high street as part of a professional team and thrive in this environment. I know from within my own offices that I have good enthusiastic staff learning from fellow negotiators that have 10 years’ experience working under managers that have proved to be the best over many years. With this in mind it’s my firm opinion that the instruction of a managed team will deliver far better value and service to that of the online option.
You must also consider the contract terms and the financial commitments that the online option will have when you sign up. It is typical that their fee, although on the face of it lower than a high street agent, will be on either a ‘Fee Upfront’ or ‘Deferred Fee’ option. Either way you will have to pay this fee whether they sell the property or not. I would ask the question ‘How motivated are they to sell your property and negotiate the very best price when from the moment you instruct them they are going to get paid their fee regardless?’ You must also consider that their contracts often tie you into using their preferred solicitors who often charge far greater fees than can be agreed elsewhere.
Your sales contract through a quality ‘High Street’ agent will be on a ‘No Sale, No Fee’ basis. This will almost guarantee that the appointed agent is highly motivated from the start to get that all-important sale and to be pushing to do it within a reasonable amount of time. You also then have the comfort that if the property does not sell you can remove your instruction after a minimum period with no costs incurred.
In summary we should thank the ‘Online Only’ agent for their influence on the market, but instruct the modern day ‘High Street’ agent for the best service and value.
Written by Matthew Wiggall, Managing Director at Fresh Estate & Letting Agents
Thank you for everything. The service, professionalism and effort has been above what would be expected. Thank you. Richard & Laura