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Please tell me about online estate agents

(16 Posts)
Ginda Thu 27-Sep-12 12:03:52

I gather online agents charge around £500 flat fee to sell your house - is this right?

I don't know anyone who's used an online agent but as I see it the benefit is you save lots of money (estate agent's fee to sell mine would be £3,750, and they don't even do floor plans!), while the main disadvantage is having to do your own viewings. Having said that, when I bought the house I own now, I recall the owner doing the second and third viewings anyway!

Can anyone add any other pros/cons? Who handles the negotiations if using an online agent? Do the potential buyers call me direct?

I will need a quick sale because the move has to be timed to fit in DC's school holidays. Would a RL estate agent be a better bet to achieve a quick sale?

Re doing own viewings, I am out at work all day, so would only be able to do viewings myself in the evenings and at weekends. But my parents live nearby and would be happy to do viewings for me during the day. My main concern is, I live alone with my DCs - is it safe to do viewings on your own (remembering Susie Lamplugh)? If I were to ask my mum and dad to do any daytime viewings then should I be concerned for their safety too?

Anything else I should consider?

pinksky Thu 27-Sep-12 12:28:54

Hi Ginda, we've just (fingers' crossed) secured a sale using Hatched.

We paid 199 + VAT initially, then will pay 199+VAT on completion. This would save us over 3k, and it included floorplans but not the EPC. I arranged this separately for 30 quid + VAT, definitely worth doing your own IMO.

Why we chose an online:
Price, primarily! We set a 3 week deadline and if we hadn't had any viewings we would start considering local agents again, and we would only have lost a little bit of cash.
We felt we could sell our house better than any agent, and often agents ask you to do viewings anyway. In reality, we've been able to take more time than an agent would, and I think viewers have found that helpful.
We also felt that getting it on rightmove was the most important thing in getting it sold (would have sold privately otherwise).

Possible cons:
It can take a while to get people through the door - unlike local agents, the online one won't have a list of people who are looking for somewhere. We put a poster in our window to help, but I was worried for the first week when we had no viewings (had expected people to be falling over themselves to view grin )
I would possibly not recommend going down this route if your house may be hard to sell - it's time consuming doing viewings and some people are slightly distrustful of non-local agents (where we live anyway) - a local agent may be better at the hard sell.
I feel that there's slightly less of a personal touch, but then I wonder whether a local agent would have been any better in reality.

I have done all the viewings and haven't ever felt unsafe. Hatched call/email/text us info, including the viewers full name and status. We have been impressed with their ability to get feedback from people, and they have also handled our sale negotiation. Standard safety advice - let people go through doors/intro rooms before you. Leave door on the latch if you can. Have an agreed time to call someone after the viewing - if you haven't called, they call you, if they can't get in touch after X amount of time then they come round, call police, whatever.

We chose hatched as I preferred their website, even though they have a horrid 'low cost' banner on their logo, which shows on website.
You still have an agent come out to visit, take pics, measure up etc, by the way.

MrsJamin Sun 30-Sep-12 08:10:32

I'm interested in doing this too - pinksky how many viewings have come from this? I couldn't work out where in the process you are. We have found a few that go as low as £262 all in- it would save us £2k if we were able to do the sale this way so it feels worth a 'punt'. We had a local estate agent and she said most of the leads come from rightmove - so I can't see why we shouldn't just get listed on there by an online estate agent for a lot less. I'm happy to do viewings as I'm a SAHM, so I can just think of the lovely new sofa we can get with what we'll save by selling more directly.

jollydiane Sun 30-Sep-12 09:18:15

I think online agents can work really well if
1. You are very realistic with your price.
2. Have decent photos and floor plan
3. Can manage your viewings yourself.
4. Have clear expectations of the package your are buying. Perhaps the payment upfront estate agents are not as pushy as other agents, which might actually be a benefit.
5. Their technology is often more advanced so you can see a log of what has happened re viewings.

Get a couple of local EA round for a valuations then take 4% off their valuations. If you then market the property at the lower value you should get plenty of viewers and hopefully an offer. All the best.

EmpireBiscuit Sun 30-Sep-12 09:27:49

We 'attempted' to use mypropertyforsale.com - they were awful.

No understanding of the Scottish system (which may not be relevant), people trying to organise viewings and them not contacting us, bad pricing advise, poor quality photos....the list goes on!

The main issue I can (now) see is that as you pay your fee up front, they don't care if you sell or not. Our home was up with them for 3 months and we had 3 viewing, when it was up with a 'proper' high street estate agent it sold within a week.

fourwalls Sun 30-Sep-12 09:56:48

We've used www.Housenetwork.co.uk several times - would recommend wholeheartedly.

You have to do your own viewings but unless you're using an agent to avoid speaking to buyers directly, you're probably better at doing this anyway.

Excellent service - listed in days - best photos and floor plans we've ever seen - you write your own blurb.

Much more professional and competent service than any high st. agent we've ever used.

I think they're the biggest in the online agency market and, like Rightmove make the other search engines look rubbish, Housenetwork make the other online agencies (and high st agencies) look pretty poor.

Ginda Mon 01-Oct-12 13:26:53

Thank all. So with online agencies, you deal with the offers/negotiations yourself?

Does that feel a bit awkward?

weedonleg Mon 01-Oct-12 13:38:03

We used housenetwork and again, recommend them 100%

You don't have to do the negotiations yourself - you'll be assigned to an account manager who will take on all that side of things (and I found ours to be very professional, very savvy, very on the ball) but if you've done the viewings yourself, you might find that the buyer will naturally want to deal with you direct. Our buyer made his offer through the official channels (they get an automated email asking them for feedback) so we 'wrote back' thanking them for their offer (we didn't accept it immediately as they were not then proceedable) and said to keep in touch with their sale and feel free to contact us direct by phone/email. Thereafter all correspondence was direct, although housenetwork did do the checking up and down the chain legwork for us.

It's up to you how you play it, we felt more comfortable dealing directly (as we really liked our buyers!) but I'd imagine most people use them as you would a traditional agent. The only difference being cheaper fees in exchange for doing your own viewings.

pinksky Mon 01-Oct-12 14:58:33

MrsJamin - we sold the flat last week, it was on the market for 5 weeks and we had three people view it in that time (this seemed about right - it's not really a first time buyers option but it is a one bed, so limited buyers). Like you, I felt that it was worth a punt - lots of things you could spend a couple of grand on!

We had 4 local agents give valuations, and put our on just a couple of % lower (they all gave the same valuation). We sold for about 95% of the asking price.

ginda our agents, Hatched, negotiated the sale for us. They were happy to negotiate pretty hard but they did have to take our lead as they weren't familiar with the market in our area.
I would say if you do use online be really au fait with how the market is, what % of asking prices houses are selling for etc.

Fizzylemonade Mon 01-Oct-12 17:07:03

I have sold through HouseNetwork and coincidently the house I bought was also up for sale with them.

I find it amazing that somehow people think local estate agents have this whole list of people waiting for houses. When we were house hunting we didn't register with any agent, I just used both RightMove and Globrix to alert me of any potential houses.

Having bought and sold using traditional high street agents in the past I think the price they charge to sell your house is a rip off in this day and age.

The only time I would remotely consider using one and paying the extortionate fee is if I was selling a bungalow or any property that might sell to an elderly couple who would themselves go down the traditional route.

I found HouseNetwork amazingly good, they chase for feedback, it gets emailed to you, and they negotiated the price. We had 3 estate agents round to value our house but had a good idea of what it would sell for. HouseNetwork agreed with that. We had a floorplan, loads of photos and yes I had to do the viewings.

Dh took the DCs out but I had my mobile in my hand ready to hit speed dial case anything went pear. I feel that I am more qualified to sell my house than someone who may know a bit about the area and schools.

We found paying upfront (think it was £700 as we had the HIP pack) fantastic. The agents still pushed to get the sale through, as then we are off their books and another success story for them.

weedonleg Mon 01-Oct-12 17:21:10

Agreed fizzy, and even if estate agents do send out details to their 'list' (which they have compliled through people contacting them through rightmove anyway) a serious buyer would not rely solely on that but would additionally be registered for rightmove alerts etc. As long as you are on rightmove there is not one serious buyer you won't capture.

Take a look at the testimonies on housenetwork's website - I know they are genuine because my one has just been published! Obviously they wouldn't publish any negative ones but I think the volume of positive ones appearing every day should tell you its worth a punt.

Madamnit Tue 02-Oct-12 09:30:31

online estate agents are a revelation! We have just sold our house using www.urbansalesandlettings.co.uk - we were a but suspicious at first, but as they were so cheap we thought not a lot to lose if it didn't work out.

They were ace! Like the other folk on here found, the only thing that different was the viewings. My husband and I always made sure we were doing them together. We may have dealt with different people at each stage but found them all to be professional and efficient - pleasantly surprised, still can't believe we saved about 2.5k for the sake of a few evenings showing folk around.

I was also worried about the negotiating, but they dealt with all of that. Can thoroughly recommend online estate agents!

goldensambo Tue 02-Oct-12 13:07:48

We had our house on the market with an online estate agent paid upfront. Total rubbish. started of telling us our house was worth x amount with that being the lowest that agents in the area had valued and then tried to get us to drop it £20k. PM if you want the name x

shrimponastick Mon 08-Oct-12 11:02:34

I am also considering using one of these agencies. Interesting reading. I think it sounds like the way to go.

I will pm you goldensambo so as to be aware!

BigBadBob Mon 08-Oct-12 13:23:13

We used emoov and I would definitely not recommend them.

shrimponastick Fri 26-Oct-12 09:18:39

I have an agent from Hatched coming on Wednesday to register, do pics etc.

It seems pretty standard stuff. The only difference being the financial savings.

Fingers crossed.

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