With London-centric estate agent Foxtons announcing that tougher competition has had a marked impact on its profits and Purple Bricks in trouble with the ASA over the terminology of its TV ads, online agents have had more than their fair share of headlines this week.

But, the story which has caught our eye is an analysis of the market by another former high street agent who claims online rivals (eSale included presumably) have collectively “re-written the sacred principle on which traditional estate agency is based” and “disrupted the psyche of the vendor”.

Ruffled feathers

And how has this been achieved? Well, it seems the foundations of the industry have been rocked to the core by the concept of sellers paying an up-front fee rather than on completion. (More here: (

It’s certainly true that the relatively new online business model has ruffled feathers among estate agency’s establishment. It’s probably true that quite a few (at a guess, Foxtons among them) just wish the internet would go away.

But, as you’ll see, by converting property listings into potential income, the article goes on to extrapolate the online agents’ financial performance. However – as even the author admits – the figures are purely estimates based on an assumption that ALL online estate agents ONLY charge one flat rate payable in advance, and that’s simply not the case.

Our fees – the facts

At eSale, although we do offer an up-front package, we also offer our customers the option of paying on completion. There are no tie-ins, you’re not obliged to use any or our advisors, there are no hidden credit agreements and, if we don’t sell your home, you pay us nothing.

Okay, so we’re not quite big enough (yet) to have caught Mr Stanton’s attention, even though we have more properties listed than one other he mentions – and maybe that’s because we’re based north of Watford. 

But that’s not the point we’re trying to make. In a week when one of our biggest online rivals is slapped on the wrist for “misleading” the public with its advertising, we feel it’s important that other unhelpful generalisations are quashed too – even if they are from someone with 30 years’ experience in the property market.

Yes we’re on online estate agent. Yes, we offer an up-front package. But, no, that’s not ALL we do – and a little bit of browsing on the internet will soon demonstrate that we’re by no means alone.

So, if you’re researching estate agents to help sell your property, we suggest you check out the facts rather than estimates, extrapolations, best guesses or assumptions. And, should you be told all online agents are actually agent provocateurs, you might want to check out the motives of our accusers too.

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