Should I use an online estate agent?

We were encouraged to note some recent research has indicated that, these days, as many as 85% of people selling property would consider using an online estate agent.

From our perspective, it’s certainly a step in the right direction as it suggests folk are now less sceptical than they were about conducting perhaps the biggest financial transaction of their lives on the internet.

However, as you may have noticed, we’re not claiming the figures as a watershed moment for our business model. And that is because, as ever, there are caveats.

The same research goes on to point out, that although the initial approval rating for online agents may be high – perhaps because of the much lower prices we tend to offer – the traditional high street estate agents still have more than 85% of the market.

Why? Well, it seems to be that, when it comes to homes, we want to deal with people face-to-face and not a laptop or computer keyboard. We want someone to hold our hand, guide us and reassure us that they know the patch as well as we do.

For a start-up business in online estate agency – particularly one with an ambition to go nationwide – that’s always going to be difficult. There just aren’t the resources to put experienced boots on the ground across the whole of the UK within a few months, at least not without a massive injection of investment capital.

However – as we like to think we’ve proved – it’s faulty logic to conclude that the services offered by online agents are therefore inferior across the board. A focus on good customer service, a sound knowledge of how the market works and a solid investment in IT can cut across many of the issues. In fact, these days – after almost seven years in business – there are few things a high street agent can do that we can’t any more.

But still there is the general public’s reluctance to make that leap of faith – which is certainly something we’re aware our high street rivals sometimes play on (which is understandable in a competitive business arena).

The frustration remains though that, often, vendors make their choices based on assumptions and what they think they know about us – and not the facts.

As the same research pointed out, not many people really know what it is that estate agents actually do to earn their money so there’s a tendency to stick with the old rather than risk with the new – especially when something as important as a house is at stake.

So, in summary, the fact 85% of those who were surveyed would consider an online estate agency is great. The fact that most of them then decide against it isn’t.

Don’t get us wrong… We’re doing okay. We’ve grown considerably since 2012 and our property portfolio now includes homes across England and Wales – from one-bed terraces to luxurious piles in the country.

But it’s going to take a while for online estate agents to break down those barriers and the only way to do it will be through excellent customer care, comprehensive industry expertise, competitively priced packages – and good old hard work.

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