Recently one of our clients came to us having tried and failed to sell their house through an online agent. Their experience was stressful, frustrating and expensive; they had to pay well over £1000 for a nonexistent service which ultimately failed.
They came to us having arranged all their own viewings with many of them not showing up or if they did where not in a position to buy, one person even game who said I don’t think I can get a mortgage! Crucially, they received no advice on how to connect to their buyers or get the right buyer. This left them with a property that was overvalued, unsold and going stale on the market.
This story is one of many. The dangers of using online agents are repeatedly made clear as people with limited time and no benchmark by which to measure their expectations are left with more work than they started with.
Selling property is a complex process and involves administration, understanding the buyer and sellers needs, mediation, compassion and legwork by the bucket load as well as an understanding of property law and the current market conditions. This is a full time job for our team and they do it to a high standard, but for someone without training and with a full time job of their own the task of selling by oneself is daunting and sometimes frankly dangerous.
Another issue with online agents is pinpointing where the money invested into them goes. A high street agency relies on the quality of its service and of its marketing. If high street agents do a poor job and receive negative feedback, that feedback will impact on an actual location and an actual team whose workload could realistically decrease if a poor service is provided. Because of this, for a high street agent every client’s experience matters. High street agents must work hard to maintain a continued good reputation and to earn the trust of their clients.
With online agents the structure is markedly different. As online agency teams are not directly contactable or accessible it is not clear where payments made are allocated, or whether feedback is received and taken on board. There is no sense of urgency, once you’ve made that payment, for an online agent to honour it through providing a service to you. Online agents are all about numbers; their goal is, in the manner of a telesales business, to build their database by reaching as many people as possible. They are about going viral; about quantity over quality. Once you’ve paid in you’ve helped them towards their only real target, so the incentive for them to provide you with help or to communicate with you has gone.
I would like to advise those thinking about selling through an online agent-steer clear! It may seem like a bargain but tackling a time consuming and difficult process without support from a trained specialist will likely lose you money in the long run. What’s more, in recruiting an online agent you are paying money into a target driven business whose goal is to make initial contact with you, not to actively help you with your investment. Does an on-line agent care if you sell/let your property, we will let you answer that.
It pays to instruct a high street agent as we don’t get paid unless we achieve your goal.