Online estate agents are expected to be responsible for around 10% of all house sales within the next five years, and it might even grow as high as 25%, depending on how the market reacts. Doing business online is becoming more commonplace, and these agents are well-positioned to take advantage of that. But with dozens of options to choose from and hundreds of thousand pounds at stake, how do you choose the right online estate agent for your needs?
The majority of online estate agents can be divided into one of three groups:
These divisions are a result of the services that they offer and the way they offer these services. For example, virtually all online estate agents offer valuations, but some are done by software alone and some are much more like traditional estate agents, where someone comes out naturally value your home. These distinctions can make a difference of thousands of pounds to the end selling price.
By price, listing agents are usually the cheapest, because they simply offer a listing on Rightmove and Zoopla. If they have someone to come out to your property, their base listing is likely to be highly unprofitable once you take into account costs and time, so these companies usually have to upsell their services significantly.
In addition, automated valuation can lead to a significantly lower price than you might expect. As a result, you can often get a very fast offer, but you may struggle when it comes to support through the conveyancing process. Also, be wary of per-view viewing packages. The average house takes between 10 and 20 views to sell, and at around £66 a pop, that could be up to £1,320 just for viewings.
Online estate agents
The field expand drastically at this point. At the lower end of the market, you have Hatched, with its base price of £495, and the upper end, you have eMoov, at £795. In between, you have Tepilo, easyProperty and eSale.
Although the base price for easyProperty is £295, you also have to pay £595 on completion, making it significantly pricier than most of the mid-range options. Tepilo starts at £645, but the price doesn’t include photos or floor plans — to get those, you have to pay an extra £250. This pushes their price significantly higher for basic services.
Hatched starts out looking quite reasonable at £495, but once you include the marketing package at £149 and various other options, you’re more likely going to be spending around £895.
However, eMoov and Tepilo have announced that they are merging, so there may be some significant changes to their prices by 2020.
Hybrid online estate agents
Hybrids attempt to offer the best of both worlds: the local knowledge of an estate agent with the savings of an online estate agent. Typically, these use local experts who live in the area to value a property, and most of them have worked for local firms. Therefore, they have a good idea regarding the local area and the actual price of your property.
The two biggest firms that can be best described as hybrid estate agents are Purplebricks and Yopa.
Purplebricks is one of the most successful agencies, having attracted significant investment, but they are slightly pricier than Yopa. Their base price is £849 compared to Yopa’s £839.
However, in terms of service level, they are practically identical to Yopa, and Yopa has a significant advantage when you use its conveyancing option: overall, the price works out significantly cheaper than Purplebricks. In addition, Yopa has a no-sale, no-fee option for a modest premium, which still works out much cheaper than traditional estate agencies.
If you live in London, you may have to pay a premium, depending your postcode. This is because the cost of providing local experts in the area is significant higher, and any agency that doesn’t charge a premium for London typically doesn’t have the local knowledge required.