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Online Estate agents - has anyone used one? Can you recommend them?

(28 Posts)
threeleftfeet Mon 18-Jun-12 00:02:17

A poster on another thread kindly pointed me in the direction of online estate agencies - a great idea IMO!

Has anyone here ever used oneof them? There seem to be a fair few out there, I'm trying to pick one and would really appreciate any recommendations (or advice to beware!)

TIA smile

threeleftfeet Mon 18-Jun-12 08:38:35

Hopeful bump smile

Fizzylemonade Mon 18-Jun-12 18:08:12

Yes, we used HouseNetwork and the house we now live in was sold to us by them too.

We had 3 estate agents value our property and then we went with HouseNetwork purely on cost.

We were house hunting and didn't register with any estate agent we just relied on Right Move to showcase all the properties.

The only benefit to a high street agent is they conduct the viewings, but the benefit of the on-line agent is they are much cheaper and don't mess around working toward their commission.

They did floor plans, negotiated the sale for us and we had an account that we could look at, which had stats for how many people had clicked on our property from Right Move, bookings for viewings, feedback from viewings etc.

You also have one person to contact and a direct dial telephone number for them.

Couldn't fault them and it saved us a lot of money.

vivandtom Mon 18-Jun-12 18:16:53

As above - Housenetwork - top notch. We've sold many houses and no high st agent has ever come close to matching them on price, service and absolute commitment to selling your house professionally and with none of the monkey business high st estate agents often engage in.

mahonga Mon 18-Jun-12 19:34:13

Hi, it was me on the other thread recommending housenetwork so I won't bore you again, but just to say, I made my decision after reading lots of old mumsnet threads about housenetwork - do a search, there are a fair number and all experiences are positive.

I would never sell a house any other way now!

MurderOfProse Mon 18-Jun-12 20:16:03

Definitely tempted myself by Housenetwork. Bit worried about doing my own viewings though, especially as aspects of the house are "in need of updating" i.e. it needs a new kitchen/bathroom/paint job although all else is sound.

I'm also quite shy, which manifests itself as talking too much and often complete bollocks at that, or putting my foot in it by being too honest.

How do people find conducting their own viewings?

threeleftfeet Mon 18-Jun-12 22:40:15

Thanks for the replies everyone, much appreciated smile

Can I ask, how long did it take to actually sell your house with an internet agent?

Sinkingfeeling Mon 18-Jun-12 23:48:10

Just curious - do housenetwork also find out the details of how proceedable any offers are (i.e. check to make sure funds are available, mortgage agreed, whether buyer first needs to sell their property etc.)?

agnesf Mon 18-Jun-12 23:56:58

We sold our house a couple of years ago with Housenetwork. They did give us info about how proceedable the buyer were. I found them to be fairly minimalist - they just give you/ the buyer the basic info and let you get on with it.

We had a lovely buyer and I enjoyed the fact that we talked directly a lot about tricky points over the sale - the whole sale felt very open and with no need to worry about estate agent double talk in between us.

Had the oppostie experience when we bought - bossy lady etsate agent pushing us into corners and racking up our stress.

The pictures etc that HN did were really good. Sometimes I worried a bit about the fact that I didn't have the same market knowledge as an agent but as we sold our house for more than 2 agents priced it at I feel like we did ok.

RCheshire Tue 19-Jun-12 00:08:06 - used them to sell twice. No problems. Always accessible by phone.

Blackduck Tue 19-Jun-12 06:30:37

We are in the process of doing this. Housenetwork here too. I have found them very good, prompt etc. we have to do own viewings as have a dog so felt there was no point paying a high street EA when we were doing half the work! Viewings fine - frankly you know more about the property than any EA does and most EAs are IMO pretty bland 'wonderful view' - yes, I can see that.....
I'd use them again.

mahonga Tue 19-Jun-12 07:30:08

It took us 7 weeks on the market to sell - 8 viewings (plus second viewings) and two acceptable offers, so we sold to the people who went under offer themselves first.

To be honest, I think that how long your house takes to sell with any agent is down to how appropriately you are priced. We priced realistically (£525K and sold for £500K). The valuations from local estate agents were "price it at £535 and hope someone mad might go above the extra stamp duty threshold, but realistically you'll prob need to sell for £500"). In contrast, we have friends who have a house we always thought was essentially the same value as ours. They put it on for £600 I think in November, no interest, the price has come down, they've changed agents twice and down and down and it is now on at £535. So it will presumably eventually sell for £500, having messed up the marketing for their house, and stigmatised it as 'the overpriced house'.

sinking Housenetwork did check out the chain (they phoned all the relevant state agents - they didn't check for mortgage offers for our chain, as everyone is mortgage free so there is no extra finance to raise - but I'm sure that is part of their usual remit). Like angnes, doing the viewings ourself meant we have an incredibly good relationship with our buyer so we largely did the negotiations ourselves, and DH and our buyer are in daily contact updating each other on our solictors' progress (the whole chain is very motivated to get an early exchange).

Murder I personally found it fine doing the viewings myself. It's good to go around and do a list of the features you want to highlight in each room - and it's the extra things that you as an owner can say that an estate agent wouldn't know that help sell a house. It's especially hard in the first room you show someone, as you haven't got to know the buyer yet and they aren't yet at the chatting-asking-questions stage, so get a 'script' at least for that room. So for my first room (living room) I pointed out - this room is lovely as the four windows get the light at different times of day - it's great sitting in the bay in early evening with a book as it's really sunny. This room is what sold the house to us in the first place etc". This usually led people on to ask how long we had lived there/why we were selling and from there the viewing flowed quite naturally.

I guess in your case murder you'll need to tread a fine line - just because you think the house needs a new bathroom/kitchen etc, other people might not think that, so you don't want to undersell and convince them otherwise! I would just focus on the positives - the light, the sizes of the rooms, the views, the work you have done, etc and leave them to make their own conclusions as to the rest.

RCheshire Tue 19-Jun-12 10:20:27

Assuming it's on Rightmove and the agent/you are flexible in allowing viewings then 90% of the time to sell will be down to the price.

I've sold twice through Hatched. The first time it took nearly a year as I'd priced it in line with other similar asking prices (which weren't selling...). After a couple of reductions (~15%) I got a sale.

The second time I priced 20% below those on the street which weren't selling (to be fair the house did also require work) and got a sale within 2 months.

There are plenty of sellers out there who have had their house up for sale for a year or two years and don't seem to get the fact that they've overpriced it. Even in a slow market if you price correctly you will sell.

Do not go off surrounding asking prices, look at sold prices (& unless in London ignore the peak selling prices around 2007). Take an agent's valuation with sceptism - they may be suggesting a higher figure to win your business.

Of course you may decide you're willing to have it listed for sale for a long time in the hope of getting a higher price - that's fine too as long as you actually believe house prices will rise over the next couple of years.

vivandtom Tue 19-Jun-12 10:22:15

Sold several properties with Housenetwork - received and accepted offers within 6 weeks - and completed with those buyers in every case - no drop outs.
Could have been lucky - but good marketing, right price, solicitors and Housenetwork have been good at pushing along the process. Completed in every case within 12 weeks.
YOU have to get you pricing right with Housenetwork - as in, it's YOUR responsibilty to choose the right price, Housenetwork don't profess to have local market knowledge - if you're unsure then get local high st agents to give you valuations.

Fizzylemonade Tue 19-Jun-12 12:05:02

As I said above, I had 3 estate agents price my house, plus I had watched the market for years to see what things went up for and what they sold for plus I kept a record of the condition of the houses anal

HouseNetwork ran my house through a pricing tool that they, like other companies have access to and came up with a range of £15k from putting it on at to accepting and selling at.

Our house went over the Christmas period where everything grinds to a halt, so it went on at the beginning of September, offer at the end of October, we found this house November, and finally completed in the February but we were selling to cash buyers so moved at their timetable. Luckily our sellers were flexible too so February was a good time for them.

As for doing your own viewings why not have a mate come round and treat them like a potential viewer? That way you get a sort of script in your head of what to say. You don't need to point out the obvious "this is the lounge" more like "we love this room, it gets the morning sun blah blah"

I would actually prefer somewhere to put my own stamp on rather than have it all done for me. So a new kitchen and bathroom etc doesn't put me off.

sparkles281 Tue 19-Jun-12 19:58:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MurderOfProse Tue 19-Jun-12 23:58:45

Thanks mahonga - that's all great ideas! Unfortunately our first room is our living room which is probably the least inspiring room but I'm sure I can spin some sort of positive thing out of it. Somehow..!!

I also like the idea of getting a friend round to "view" too!

threeleftfeet Wed 20-Jun-12 00:32:05

The area we're selling in is having its own mini bubble actually. It's recently become desirable (previously considered rough!) and you can literally see gentrification in action.

Flats are selling within a few viewings / days and prices have risen dramatically in the last year, despite what's going on nationally. However I reckon this little bubble may well burst (e.g. if/when the euro goes tits up the prices will crash harder here I reckon as the bubble will burst too IYSWIM).

So I'm keen to sell fairly quickly, but also I don't want to miss out on getting a good price for it!

One estate agent did value it at much more than the others, he reckoned he had people on his books waiting for flats like this. If this is true (if!!) then it might be worth the commission. But on the other hand, a fast moving market would be the best time to use an online agent, wouldn't it?

Decisions decisions!

mahonga Wed 20-Jun-12 06:33:21

Is it really likely that the people on the estate agents books don't also have rightmove alerts set up for flats in your area?

If they are serious, motivated, proceedable buyers then they will.

If they are just tyre-kickers, who go and view flats the estate agent recommends at the weekend for a hobby, then they are not the kind of viewers you need to bother with.

Good luck with whatever you decide!

vivandtom Wed 20-Jun-12 07:33:50

One estate agent did value it at much more than the others, he reckoned he had people on his books waiting for flats like this. If this is true (if!!) then it might be worth the commission.

This is one of the biggest lies estate agents tell all punters.

They don't have people on their books - they don't have books!!!

They have a database of people who have viewed one/any of their properties - properties they found on..... Rightmove!

People don't register with agents anymore - it's a straight-up lie.

Any online agent will put you on Rightmove. Don't waste your money on this agent. The so-called buyer he has will still be looking on Rightmove.

threeleftfeet Wed 20-Jun-12 19:59:19

OK, I had a little wobble when we saw the agents, think they must have worked their charms on me!

Basically they quoted more than I'd thought they would (prices are actually going up round here!) and I think I started thinking I needed them to get us those kind of prices.

But that's not necessarily true is it? i mean, they are sales people: to give them their dues, so they may be skilled negotiators who can negotiate - say - an extra £7K. But if their fees are £7.5K then it's a total waste of our time (and the vendor's money) to go through the process of negotiating that extra money.

They'd have to negotiate a lot more than their fees to make it worth it (as we'd save time I imagine if we don't have to haggle that extra £7.5k to cover their fees). And can they do that?

I'm willing to take a risk that they can't! Well it's not actually so much of a risk is it? Especially as there's no contract with them. We can try it out for a couple of weeks and see how it goes. (it's a fast moving market where we are). And if it doesn't work the most we've lost is a couple of weeks and £600 as we can always instruct an agent later. So the internet agents are worth a punt I reckon.

Going to read the small print tonight and see if we can find a reason why not ...

GruffVoiceDownTheChimney Thu 21-Jun-12 10:27:36

We used Hatched and got on really well with them - can def recommend.

vivandtom Thu 21-Jun-12 13:47:45

But that's not necessarily true is it? i mean, they are sales people: to give them their dues, so they may be skilled negotiators who can negotiate - say - an extra £7K.

One of the real issues with expecting EAs to negotiate well on your behalf is that £7,000 is a big lump of cash to a buyer, even on a house worth up to say £500,000 - it's not chickenfeed, is it?

But to the EA on 1-2% commission £7000 is only really worth £70 -£140 - peanuts!

Now a lot of them don't consider it worth their valuable time picking up the phone for that kind of money.

There's also the huge risk in their minds that asking for the extra £7000 will jeopardise the sale and then they lose everything.

So you see - once they have a buyer (any buyer at any price) estate agents don't really like negotiating the price at all - it's not really in their interest - £7000 to you but only £100 to them.

So while people think that having an EA on commission motivates them to get the highest price - in reality, most of the time - it doesn't.

threeleftfeet Thu 21-Jun-12 19:13:39

That's interesting vivandtom, thanks smile

Pretty much decided we're going with housenetwork now. Well I'm happy with them in principle, DP (very sensibly!) wants to read the small print before actually committing to anything.

Stokey Thu 21-Jun-12 21:47:34

We're near you, threeleftfeet. We had 15-20 viewings over 2 weekends and a couple of evenings via housenetwork and had 5 offers. We sold to the first people who viewed in the end.

In terms of viewings, i let people wander around by themselves and waited in the living room to answer any questions. I found that way you only really have to talk to people who are genuinely interested, as well as not having to do the estate agent spiel of stating the blummin obvious.

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