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High Street vs Online Agents!

Everywhere you look there appears to be a new advert for online estate agents offering exceptionally low fees. Naturally we’re asked whether these agents are worthwhile or whether you get what you pay for? We are obviously biased on this issue but do understand the importance of this new “online” age! 

Back in the good ol’ days people used to trawl through the property section of newspapers and rely on estate agents to guide them through the property market. With the introduction of Rightmove, the industry dramatically changed and the customer became more informed and self-reliant, able to research vast quantities of properties online and narrow their selection to a few properties they wanted to see. 

Purplebricks and similar online agents have now recognised that the public perception of estate agents is, and I quote, “snake-oil parasites providing below average services for extortionate rates”. Online agents mean that customers are now having a go themselves, carrying out valuations of their property, viewings and negotiating their way through the conveyancing process.

So does this mean the end for High Street Estate Agencies? Well, we certainly hope not! So here’s our take on the debate of High Street vs Online:-

1.    Local knowledge
High Street Agents make it their business to know a locality inside and out. Every day they work and operate in a particular town and they know the unique selling points of every single street and what has sold recently. They also know the local market and monitor how it evolves meaning they can predict how prices may change. High Street Agents are therefore able to give accurate valuations of achievable property prices and are thus in the best position to get you the best price for your property. No matter how much research you do as a customer, you can never have absolute confidence in the price you have chosen to advertise your property at and it will always be just a stab in the dark. 

2.    Personal Service
Agents have a reputation of being dishonest and smarmy and will do anything for the sale (Wrongly so in our opinion!). However, with so many Agents competing for business, especially in Brighton, customer service is what sets Agents apart. A good Agent will get to know your needs as a customer; why you are looking to sell, the price you are hoping to achieve and how quickly you need to sell. They should give regular feedback from viewings and are under a duty to “act in your best interests”. Not only do they have a personal relationship with you as the client but also have a personal relationship with a database of potential buyers/ tenants that can be matched with your property.

With online agents you are just another fish in the pond, left to fend for your-self in the hopes that the right person sees your property at the right time. 

3.    Fees
Online Agents do charge cheaper fees. However, if you pay peanuts you may get a monkey. Every member of staff at MTM have to undertake industry recognised NFoPP exams in residential sales and lettings. The legal formalities of the property industry are vast and ever changing with the potential consequences of falling short being very costly. Fees with a high street may be a bit more, but you pay for the peace of mind of knowing that your property is being looked after by knowledgeable people with your best interests in mind. You also have recourse should anything go wrong. 

There are far more advantages that are beyond the scope of this article. However, it would be ignorant to say that online agents offer nothing. The industry is clearly changing and there is an obvious public demand for this type of service which needs to be recognised. High street agents need to evaluate their businesses and look to adapt to take account of this evolution. 

Overall, High Street Agent still have a lot to offer where online agents fall short and so there will always be a place in the property market for them. We see it that when looking after your biggest asset you’d have to be extremely confident to pay less for a reduced service.

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