The start of a new year. After the excitement of Christmas, January can see quite a lull. It’s no wonder people tend to think of either booking a holiday or selling their home, or both. This time last year we were definitely in the “let’s sell our house” camp. We had outgrown our home a long time before, being a two bedroom house with two children we were falling over toys all over the place. We had numerous discussions about whether it was affordable right now, what we wanted to buy; a wishlist if you will.
There was a lot of researching to do. Once we had worked out our finances roughly we needed to decide how we were going to sell the house. Did we want to use an Estate Agent or an Online Agent. What would be the advantages of each, the cost and more importantly, who would sell it best. We read lots and lots of information, all conflicting, everyone had a different opinion. We opted for an Estate Agent, and today I’m going to tell you why we made that choice and more importantly why we are glad we made that choice.
Selling Our Home with an Estate Agent
When we decided to look into selling our home we went with the rule of 3 for pretty much everything. We invited a very well-known online agent out along with two local estate agents.
The online agent was the first out, he was THE ONLY ONE who asked us what we thought the house was worth. We had no idea, we could only go with what our neighbours had sold for a few years earlier. So when the agent said he thought he could sell the house for £10K more than we thought we were clearly very excited. And with a reduced fee, we sure we would be using them.
When the two estate agents came out they both told us that we could sell our house for £10K more than what the online agent had said. They obviously had higher fees and so we needed to consider our options very carefully. Were they telling us a higher sale price to get us ‘on the books’, then drop the price in a few weeks? Would they be worth the additional fee? Who would we pick?
Choosing an Agent
We did some more research and found other properties in the area that had sold for the higher price, and higher still.
A friend of ours had bought a house through the online agent and not had the best experience. So armed with that information we decided that we would use the Estate Agent. They had said their fee was 1% +VAT. We negotiated that down to 0.85% +VAT. This meant that the fee for selling the house was not too dissimilar to the online agent, however they would do everything for that cost. Adverts, viewings, negotiations. Everything.
Well, they sold the house within 14 weeks. Twice. They did all they could when we lost our first buyer.
When we finally completed we sold for £7K more than the price the online agent had said he would put it on the market for.
So yes, their fee may have been £200 less, but they would have cost us over £7K. Price them low sell them fast?
Buying a Home through an Online Agent
Little did we know we would end up buying our home from a couple who had used the online agent we had decided not to use. So, do we think they got value for money? Not really, and this is why.
So we had seen the house on Rightmove like most people looking for a place to buy or rent. We then booked the viewing online with the owners. They conducted the viewing themselves, I assume they hadn’t paid the additional premium for the online agent to do the viewing!
We loved the house and so the negotiations began. We submitted our offer online. 2 days later the online agent called us to say that the owners were declining the offer. He went on to say that they had been offered full asking price by several other people but all still had to sell their properties. I didn’t believe him if I’m honest.
We submitted another offer and this went on across the online platform with no further interaction with the online agent. We ended up offering full asking price. It took the online agent another day and a half to contact us to tell us the offer had been accepted. He advised their post sale team would call to obtain all the necessary before taking the house off the market. When they called they told us what they needed but then spent most of the call trying to sell us solicitors, mortgage advice. All things we didn’t need. Then they took the house off the market.
BEFORE they had seen any of our information.
Whilst this was great for us, as someone selling your home, you want to know the person ‘buying’ it can get a mortgage before you take it off the market. They didn’t. Off it came and they didn’t get our mortgage in principle until a week or so later.
That was the last time we heard from the online agent.
All communication was done via email or text by myself and the vendor or the house. EVERYTHING. We had to keep the chain together. Luckily we got on quite well with the people we were buying from otherwise that could have been very awkward!
Keeping the Chain Together
This was the biggest difference for us between the Estate Agent and the Online Agent.
Our Estate Agent contacted our solicitor and our buyers solicitor every 2 weeks and the fed back updates to us.
The online agent did nothing. It was left to me and the vendor.
Our Estate Agent was on hand for the smallest query, and even responded late in the evening when they had been out of the office.
The online agent did nothing.
Our Estate Agent offered to take the details of the vendor of the property we were buying to include them in her fortnightly update to save me from having to do it because she understood how stressful moving could be.
The online agent did nothing.
Well there are none!
From what I gathered, the online agent charged their £849 fee, took some photos, put them on Rightmove and then didn’t really do an awful lot else.
The Estate Agent we used was there every step of the way. They made the sale of the house as smooth as they could and for this reason, we would ALWAYS pick an Estate Agent over an Online Agent.