If you’re keen to keep your selling costs to a minimum, but are wary of going it alone, you may decide to opt for an online estate agent with fixed fees, such as Yopa or Purple Bricks, which often fall somewhere between a full estate agent service and marketing your home yourself. Depending on which package you choose, you may need to conduct viewings yourself, but the online agent will usually arrange photography, the floor plan and advertising on your behalf.
Some estate agents operate entirely online, meaning they will likely not have a branch local to you. Your correspondence with an online estate agent will therefore be mainly via phone, email and messaging. This comes with its own set of pros and cons.
For example, one major downside of an online estate agent is that they may not be local to your area, so their knowledge of the property market where you live may be limited. They may have a regional representative with some relevant knowledge, but this will likely not compare to a local expert who knows the market inside-out. Even though an online agent can provide a valuation, it could still be worth finding a local agent who knows the neighbourhood very well, or at least getting valuations from other agents before proceeding online.
An online estate agent also usually cannot host viewings for you, so you will have to do this yourself, which can be very stressful and time-consuming. A few online estate agents offer viewing services as part of a more expensive package, however.
Some online agents will also not act as middlemen between you and the buyer to help you negotiate, or assist with paperwork. You should make sure to find an agent that does if you are not confident about completing these processes yourself.
Finally, the fact that they do not have physical premises near you means that their marketing will all be done online, which you may find too limited.
The main advantage of an online estate agent is that they tend to charge a fixed rate, as opposed to high-street estate agents – that is, local ones with physical premises – who typically charge a percentage of the property price. Most of the time, this works out to an online estate agent being much cheaper, which is consistent with them providing fewer services than a high-street agent. It’s worth noting that you often pay upfront with an online agent, whereas with high-street agents you typically pay upon completion. This means that you may have to pay an online agent even if you do not end up making a sale.
Online agents can also sometimes be easier to get hold of, as they are often available to contact on evenings and weekends. This may not always be the case with high-street agents.