October 1, 2014

Online vs traditional estate agents

I frequently get asked what my view is on the difference between internet based agencies and traditional estate agents, and which I think is better. When most people pose the question, they do so from the standpoint that one markets online and the other operates from a high street. So my initial response is that both business models run an online service and both market in many of the same locations, and ask if that is what they mean?


Invariably this is not the question and in actual fact what they are asking is: Why is there a difference in the fee charged? As with most things in life, you generally get what you pay for. Here I have listed the key areas that will always separate the two market places.

Correct valuation


It is absolutely critical that a property is placed on the market at the right price from day one, as you only get one chance to make a first impression. No amount of studying figures from any number of online sources will replace the agent on the ground, dealing with similar properties day in day out and having a complete understanding of the current market place (view my blog “Dark art or science”). This knowledge alone can be worth its weight in gold and can make a substantial positive gain to your situation.


A leading local agent will know the correct price for a certain street, and what properties are selling/ letting well in a given time. An online agent working remotely won’t always have that breadth of knowledge of the local market –such as recent sales and lets –and if they value your property inaccurately you could either sell too cheaply or fail to find a buyer at all. A very costly mistake!




From the production and staging of the photographer’s visit (which will include high quality floorplans, images and video content), right through to setting up a marketing campaign utilising both print and online channels, a good estate agent will go to great lengths to make sure the marketing of a property is to the highest calibre and will provide maximum exposure. It is worth noting that online marketing still only accountants for 20% of our total marketing budget, and we do not charge an upfront fee to produce this content unlike most online only agencies.




Some questions worth asking yourself:


  • How much time do you have to invest in showing people around a property?


  • Is the property accessible to be able to conduct viewings?


  • Are you comfortable dealing directly with an offer or negative remarks about the property?


  • Would you know whether someone is serious or not by an email request for a viewing?


These are all things that only a high street agency can offer comprehensively. The amount of time invested in this area can be vast, but to get your desired conclusion it is imperative to get this part of the process right.


Careful handling of the sale / let


This is probably the biggest point of all. It is not widely stated but many more sales and lets would not reach the finishing line were it not for the local knowledge and skillset that a high street agent provides as part of their service. Where high street agents really earn their fee is at this stage of the process: managing emotion, expectation, solicitors, referencing agents and mortgage brokers. When situations get difficult people still want to visit or talk this through in person with the agent who is working for them. When choosing an agent most people want the same things:


1) Maximising the best price


2) As little hassle as possible and


3) That they trust and believe in the ability of their agent.


Clearly there is a market place for all forms of estate agency business; the addition of the internet has enhanced the high street model, as well as creating a new one.


Kye Wheatley, CEO of Keatons

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