How to use the internet to help you buy a house

It is incredible how much information is now available on the internet, an illustration of this is the new Police crime website which generated so many hits upon launch that it actually crashed! 

Websites like this demonstrate how many online tools are available to buyers when searching for a property without even venturing outside of their front door.  The days of estate agents being custodians of the market are over. 

You may think that the internet gives you the opportunity to ditch estate agents all together but unfortunately this isn’t the case.  Most of the big property portals will not display your property if you decide to go it alone.  The cheapest option is to employ an online estate agent such as turtlehomes.co.uk. 

There are many websites you can use, including those which help you work out what your house may be worth. 

You can check your credit rating on Experian and use a mortgage calculator to work out roughly what you can borrow. 

Websites such as Nestoria and UpMyStreet show local neighbourhood information such as schools, council tax bands and crime statistics.  The Environment Agency website has publically available maps highlighting in blue areas which are liable to flood.  Local councils also publish online all planning applications which could have future impact on a property you are planning to purchase. 

You can even view any property that you may be interested in thanks to google earth and google street view. 

There is now no need to rely on an Estate Agent to tell you what a house sold for.  The Land Registry records the actual sale price of most transactions in England and Wales.  Sites such as Zoopla will show you not only what the house sold for but a current valuation guide. 

You also don’t need an Estate Agent to tell you what houses are for sale within your search criteria.  You can simply log onto a property portal such as rightmove or globrix, type in your preferences and it will display a list of suitable property. 

In essence all the information that you need to buy a house is at your fingertips, the only thing you need an estate agent for is to arrange the viewing and act as the middle man for any price negotiations.

As the role of the modern estate agent decreases watch out for the new kid in town – the Online Estate Agent.

Which? tells sellers to choose cheapest online estate agents

Consumer watchdog Which?, a persistent critic of estate agents, has advised home sellers to shop around for the smallest fees and to save money by using an online estate agent.

Which? said that estate agent fees are a major cost in moving home and can be as high as £4,800 on a £200,000 home.

However, it said this morning, using an online estate agent (such as turtlehomes.co.uk) could cost as little as £455.

It also advised home sellers to shop around for an Energy Performance Certificate, saying charges vary from £35 to £120.

Altogether, said Which?, consumers can knock £6,000 off the ‘expensive extras’ of moving home simply by shopping around and finding the cheapest services.

It said that the average bill for selling a £200,000 property now comes to £7,400 and that the cost of moving has ‘never been more difficult’.

But Which? did say that whilst vendors could save on estate agency fees, it was important not to scrimp on areas that could protect their interests, such as surveys and legal fees.

What happens if I struggle to sell my house online?

At turtlehomes.co.uk we regularly analyse all of our housing stock to make sure that they are marketed in the best light to maximise the chance of selling.  There are various factors in particular that we look at, I’m going to focus on these in further detail.

Are you advertising in the right places? 

Over 80% of house hunters find their property online with most of those visiting the main five property portals.  Find out which websites your agent advertises on, if you are not on all five then your property is not receiving the exposure that it deserves.  An online estate agent will list on literally hundreds of websites.  If you are on these websites but still not receiving the number of leads that you expect then the first thing you should check is the Click Through Rate. 

Click Through Rate 

The Click Through Rate is the number of times a home-hunter chooses to click through from seeing a property’s summary details on the search results page of a website, to view more information about the property on its own details page.  Basically the higher the Click Through Rate then the more people viewing the property then the greater the chance of leads.  Ask your agent what your CTR is, if it falls below 5% then something is wrong either with your asking price or the presentation of the property. 

Presentation 

The presentation of a property is the best way of attracting leads.  On the summary page it is important to offer the best reasons possible for a prospective buyer to click through to your property.  The main photograph is critical; it needs to show the property in the best light.  It is also advisable to change the image to an internal photo or simply use a front shot from a different angle.  Research shows that houses hunters regularly trawl websites and by swapping and updating the property images you are more likely to be noticed. 

Price 

If improving and changing the property presentation doesn’t improve the click through rate then the only answer will be to reduce your asking price.  Your estate agent should be able to provide you with valuation reports which will show you how much similar houses in your area are being marketed for. 

Author – Richard Tuck B.Sc – online estate agents – turtlehomes.co.uk

What is the NAEA?

The National Association of Estate agents is the professional body for estate agents in the United Kingdom.  It was founded in 1962 with the goal of upholding good practice and high professional standards. 

NAEA is membership organisation which falls under the NFOPP (National Federation of Property Professionals) group with also comprises the ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents).  The NAEA also incorporates a number of smaller groups including ICBA (Institution of Commercial and Business Agents), NAVA (National Association of Valuers and Auctioneers) and NAEA International (incorporating the Federation of Overseas Property Developers, Agents and Consultants). 

Today the Association has over 10,000 members across the world that practice all aspects of property including residential sales and letting, property management, business transfer, auctioneering and land. 

Key roles of the organisation include providing guidance for property professionals across a broad spectrum of disciplines whilst campaigning to make the property market more efficient and user-friendly for the home buying and selling public. 

Members of the National Association of Estate Agents are expected to gain an entry qualification in order to join.  Members are then required to abide by a code of conduct, they must meet minimum standards relating to professional and ethical practice. 

So by choosing to use a member of the NAEA you can feel confident of receiving good service. 

Author – Online Estate Agents – turtlehomes.co.uk

How can I save money through an online estate agent?

If you sell your house online you’ll make massive savings.

According to consumer body Which? Choosing an online estate agent instead of a traditional high street estate agent could save you on average more than £3000 in fees. Another benefit is the fact that a lot more people choose to search for property online rather than visiting the high street. Recent surveys show that as much as 90% of purchasers find the right property to buy by searching online property websites. Despite this, over 90% of vendors still employ a traditional estate agent according to the Office of Fair Trading when it comes to selling property.

If you take the example of travel agents then more and more people will use an online estate agent as the advantages become more apparent. Online estate agents are able to keep there costs down by operating out of a single call centre rather than having a network of local offices. By employing the latest computer systems and by advertising through a network of property websites they are able to cover the whole of the UK.

The only drawbacks are that you will have to accompany your own viewings and you do miss out on the local knowledge of the high street agent. But taking into account the fee savings, that is a small price to pay. Turtlehomes.co.uk are just one of many online estate agents and will market your property for less than £600 +VAT. Looking at their listings they currently advertise property across the UK from Rochdale to Leigh-on-Sea.

How to sell your house online

The most important job when selling your property is finding buyers. Recent research has shown that 90% of buyers search for their ideal home on the internet, so the key to selling your home is to ensure maximum coverage on the world wide web. There are many “private sellers websites” in existence that you can simply upload your own photographs and property details to. Many of these will charge less than £100 or in some instances nothing at all. The problem with these, however, is that they don’t offer a lot of web exposure. Unless a buyer visits the site that you are listed on then they will completely unaware that your property is available.

In simple terms to ensure that your property is being marketed as effectively as it should, it needs to be listed on the major portals. This is where all the buyers are! The main players are rightmove, primelocation, findaproperty, globrix and zoopla. Unfortunately all of these sites have banned private sales and private sellers sites. If you decide to take the private sales route you may well be under-marketing your property. So how can you get around this? The best solution is to use an online estate agent.

Turtlehomes.co.uk for example will sell your house for less than £600+VAT but will still offer many of the advantages of a high street estate agent. Not only will your home be listed on all of the major websites they will also arrange viewings and negotiate the best price for you.