Ditch your estate agent and save thousands!

If you sell your home online you’ll make a massive saving Estate agents are not exactly popular with British punters.

Indeed they frequently top the ‘most hated professions’ rankings, along with traffic wardens, politicians and recruitment consultants. Our dislike of estate agents often boils down to a lack of trust and an unshakeable belief that they are making a lot of money for what often seems like very little work. But despite these concerns, over 90% of us still use an estate agent when it comes to selling our property, according to the Office of Fair Trading. Well, we don’t really have a choice, do we?

Actually we do have a choice, and in the age of the internet it is possible, in fact easy, to ditch the high street estate agent and go online. According to consumer body Which? choosing  online estate agents over their high street counterpart could save you on average more than £3,000 in fees.

Agents of fortune

If you want to get a cheaper deal than with a traditional agent but you don’t feel ready to take on the whole task of selling your home yourself, an online estate agent is a great middle ground. They are a lot cheaper than typical agents who will usually charge you between 1% and 3% of the sale price.

Online agents typically operate out of one call centre and don’t have to maintain a branch network, so can afford to charge much less. For example turtlehomes.co.uk  you pay £199 upfront and £299 on completion. VAT is added to each of the prices above, which include a standard service of full descriptions and floorplans, photography, and advertising across a wide range of websites including the agent’s own site.

Importantly, this can also include major property portals such as Rightmove.co.uk and Findaproperty.com. This is a huge benefit since private sellers are not able to list their home on Rightmove, which is the UK’s largest property site with over 10 million hits a month. Frankly, it’s where I would want my property listed to reach the most potential buyers.

Any drawbacks?

You will usually have to arrange viewings and show potential buyers around your property yourself – but many people actually prefer to do this, and some buyers like it too. After all, they get to ask what the neighbours are like!

If you really don’t like the idea of doing the viewings yourself online agents often allow you to add-on ‘accompanied viewings’ for an extra charge, but some only offer this in London. Of course, you do miss out of the local knowledge of high street estate agents (especially outside the capital), but you could always get valuations done by local agents first, before opting for the online agent.

Top tips for online selling

 •Understand what’s involved in selling your home on your own before you jump in. Are you willing to give up the time and are you going to be comfortable negotiating with potential buyers? If not, an online estate agent that offers these services could be a better option than completely going it alone.

•Remember that you can negotiate with high street estate agents on fees and some also offer flat fees. So shop around first. If your property is relatively low value the cost saving of going online will not be as great as high value homes.

•If a potential buyer comes round, call a day or so later for feedback, and if they show interest be sure to arrange a follow up visit as soon as possible. Be flexible and try to accommodate the times they can do.

•Be prepared to have your home criticised by strangers!

•If you are selling your property yourself remember you still need to get a Home Information Pack before you are allowed to market your property. Online estate agents or property sales websites both offer this as an add-on to their standard package, or you could compile the HIP yourself.

•Remember one in three accepted offers falls through so be prepared for this to happen.

•Opt for an estate agent that belongs to the Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA). If anything goes wrong or you are not happy you can complain and perhaps receive compensation.

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