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.

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 are online estate agents different to others?

Online banking, shopping delivered to your door, holidays booked with the click of a button!  From ebay to Amazon, the power of the internet has evolved the way in which we buy and sell. 

With 84% of active home movers starting their search for property online the internet is a must have tool for any modern estate agency.  The internet has now become the main driver of viewing leads for estate agents.  Portals and websites such as rightmove, findaproperty, primelocation and zoopla have become essential in the ever growing battle for market coverage. 

Online estate agents capitalise on being able to market property effectively but without the associated high overheads of a high street office.  These cost savings are can then be passed onto the customer yet still providing a professional service. 

Online estate agents by there nature are also able to successfully sell property across the whole of the UK.  The infinite coverage of the internet means that they do not need to be area specific. 

The service offered generally only differs only slightly from a high street, with the vendor having to set his own price and accompany their own viewings.  A small price to pay if you want to save thousands of pounds. 

The online agent will still produce colour photos, floor plans, property brochures, a for sale board, extensive internet coverage, arrange viewings and provide feedback, and sales progression.

Home owners save more than £3,000 by selling online, says Which? study

Home owners can save more than £3,000 by selling their property online, according to new research.

By Myra Butterworth, Personal Finance Correspondent, Daily Telegraph
Published: 7:45AM BST 19 Aug 2009

Selling online means home owners can avoid using traditional high street estate agents that typically charge between 1 per cent and 3 per cent of the sale price.

The study by consumer group which? said fees charged by online agents tend to much lower – from as little as 0.5 per cent.

However, it warned to watch out for additional costs, such as for sale signs, which can add £30 onto your bill.

The study compared three different online estate agents marketing a home with an asking price of £200,000 and the potential savings made versus an average high-street agent charging a commission fee of 1.5 per cent.

But while some home owners may decide to bypass the middle man and sell independently, Which? Money warned that this option can cost time and money to market the property.

Sarah Beeny, property television presenter and founder of online property service Tepilo.com, said: “Times are moving on – we don’t need to pay for estate agents shop fronts, mini bars, telephone systems and branded cars – if you would rather keep the money and spend it on a holiday in Seychelles or a new kitchen when you move into your new home, then pop your house online.

“Now in 2009 most people wanting to buy a house will go online pop into Google ‘houses to buy near Northampton’ and come up with a modern equivalent of those high streets. One click away and you are on an online portal and you can check out what is available, for how much and download the details.”

turtlehomes.co.uk will market your home for just £199+VAT and £399+VAT on completion.