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Online estate agents v's high street estate agents

Tue 3 May 2022

You may have wondered how an online estate agent differs from a high street estate agent. The difference in fees is perhaps tempting but here, we outline some things you should consider….


Online estate agents’ fees do not necessarily cover like for like services compared to the high street estate agent. Very often, the advertised online agents’ fees will cover the basics and you will be asked to pay for your property photographs, an accompanied viewing service, and for a for sale board. You might also find that you will only get the price quoted from an online agent if you also agree to use their other services, such as conveyancing or mortgage advisor. However, these services may not be as competitive in price as your local firms may be, and if you choose to ignore this clause and use your own solicitor, you could find that you are also charged a penalty.


It might feel like you’re saving money on your selling fees, but this is not much use if your online estate agent does not get you a good price for your home. If you use an online agent, you may find yourself on your own when it comes to the price negotiation, and you could find yourself accepting an offer that you weren’t happy with. And since online agents generally work on a fixed fee, they have don’t have the same incentive to assist you in getting you a better deal. So, whilst the difference in fees may be appealing at the outset, in the larger scheme of things with a house sale, they are a fraction of the overall costs involved and could often be wiped out should you have a skilful negotiator acting for you and getting you the best price.


If you choose to use a local, high street estate agent, they will negotiate on the property sale on your behalf, and since they are working on a commission basis, this incentivises them to get you the best price. What’s more, these negotiations will usually be much faster as there is a dedicated negotiator mediating between the two parties and more importantly, they will be able to check if your purchaser is financially able to proceed, how long their sales chain is, and the number of other parties involved. The negotiator may also have been showing your buyer(s) around the property, which means that they understand both yours and their situations personally.


Online estate agents can at times operate from a call centre where the person you speak to will be different every time, so they will only be working from their colleague’s previous notes. This is fine if your sale is straightforward, but if there are any unusual aspects that you find yourself having to explain to them, you may have to repeat this each time you call. There’s nothing better than a face-to-face conversation when you need it and dealing with the same person who understands your property sale – something a high street agent can offer.


Perhaps the biggest difference between high street and online agents is the benefit of a high street agent’s local knowledge. The high street agent will understand the local property market, will have in-depth knowledge of recent sales and be able to give you a realistic valuation based on their first-hand experience. They will also have a database of potential buyers looking for homes like yours, so you may be able to match up to a buyer very quickly. And in addition to this, the high street agent will also have an existing relationship with a local firm of solicitors and for the buyers’ representatives too, which will be invaluable when sorting through any complex issues in creating a smooth transaction for you.


Choosing the right estate agent for you is a very personal choice. Online estate agents work well for some people and certain house sales but if you’re a busy person or you don’t feel comfortable with doing property viewings or price negotiations yourself, then we would recommend using a high street estate agent who will guide you through the whole selling process and be there when you want to simply pop in and chat.


Andrew Granger & Co have over 32 years’ experience in property sales across Leicestershire, from offices based in Market Harborough, Leicester, and Loughborough. You can find out more and get in touch with the friendly, knowledgeable teams at