The Estate Agency industry has had to face a challenge in recent years, the rise of the online agent, who appear to have come from nowhere and taken a large share of the market. On the face of it, they offer an effective affordable way to sell your home and offer choice in a competitive market.
So why didn’t we start Saxon Shore as an online estate agent and maximise on this new way of selling properties? Quite simply, we don’t believe online estate agents, in their current form, have much of a long-term future.
I know, that’s a bit of a statement but I genuinely think it’s the case. The online model just doesn’t stack up, neither financially, nor from a seller’s point of view.
If we take five minutes to try to understand how houses are sold, you will quickly see that paying up front doesn’t guarantee a sale or make much sense.
Having you home listed on the major property portals is just part of the story when it comes to selling your home. Yes, 80% of house searches originate online, but there is a lot of competition on these sites and your property has to stand out from the hundreds (sometimes thousands) of other properties that are shown in any buyers search criteria.
How to stand out? High quality photos and a realistic price in the local property market will ensure potential buyers click through to view your property details, this doesn’t, however, guarantee a viewing. Once you have a prospective buyerviewing your property details they need to engage with it, the longer they spendlooking at your online listing the more they are likely to want to see it in the flesh. To take advantage of this, your property should offer more high quality photos, floor plans, quality, individual property details and where possiblea video tour. This is your best chance to secure a viewing.
Once a viewing has been booked, it’s time to show your home in the best possible light. We strongly believe, that viewings should be conducted by an Estate Agent who is trained to show your property to it’s fullest potential and to address any weaknesses, ensuring the applicant is confident and informed when going to make an offer.
The offer process is not as simple as you might expect, not every offer made is in a position to proceed or the best price that can be achieved in your local market.
Again, this is why a traditional, locally based experienced estate agent is the best person to deal with this, qualifying offers and advising vendors on which offer is the best way forward to a successful completion.
Once the offer is accepted, the average house takes twelve weeks to complete. That’s twelve weeks of navigating searches, surveys, conveyancing and the general stress of the sales process. Even for the most experienced Estate Agent this can be tricky, some times chains do collapse and sales fall through. For a traditional estate agent this is how they earn their money, if the sale does fall through they don’t get paid.
So, when you think about the online model you are paying upfront for a service you are yet to receive. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot more to selling a house than just the process of listing it. Online agents will offer all of the services that we have mentioned, from professional photo’s, online tours, floor plans,accompanied viewings and conveyancing but, these services are extrasand will cost you extra plus these fees are due the moment you instruct them to sell your property and, even then, do not guarantee a sale.
A traditional agent will not only be motivated to complete the sales process they will also want to actively market it to the most buyers possible and will employ other marketing methods in addition to the property portals, such as, newspapers, social media, newsletters and of course actively contacting their buyers database.
The current online model is designed to take as many up front fees as possible keeping cash flow high and fast; it is not sustainable in a market that relies on customer referral and recommendation.
However, we must applaud these agents for coming along and shaking the industry up, providing potential vendors more options and rais ing the question of, at what price is it worth forgoing traditional customer service.