After all I’ve lived there for quite a while so I should know the ins and outs – the best bus routes, closest supermarket, what the neighbours are like – as well as the best schools, and restaurants.
But not everyone has the time to do all this – after all selling a house is a time consuming and emotionally consuming process – especially if the outcome effects your own finances and results in you moving yourself, all your worldly belongings and a few kids to a whole new abode. And that’s without even considering the process of buying a new house at the same time!
In my view thats why we need estate agents, they’re all set up to do it – they have the experience and emotional distance from the ‘home’ that the owner just can’t get. But our recent report Comparing Online Estate Agents showed there is some middle ground – somewhere between a DIY house sale and paying a High Street Estate Agent 2% of the £400,000 value of your house (before tax); and they come in the shape of an Online Estate Agent.
But what is the shape of an Online Estate Agent? A classifieds website like Gumtree or an auctions site like Ebay? An Estate agent that lives in augmented reality who you can have a meeting with so long as you have a 3D computer monitor, a headset and a wild imagination for creating an online version of yourself? (Are you also now imagining a ‘virtual estate agent’ suitably suited and booted, sitting in a virtual estate agency discussing the sale of a grade II listed cottage in the Cotswolds with a large green monster that wouldn’t look out of place in Avatar?)
The report shows that the size and shape of an Online Estate Agent can be pretty similar to the shape of a high street based Estate Agent – just without the office. Wow. Many are former employees of High Street Agencies, now working from home – still conducting viewings and doing valuations – using Rightmove and their own website to market properties and generate enquiries. Others, and this applies more to those attempting national coverage, have ‘agents’ who will visit to take photos but prefer to email you a valuation report, as guidance, and let you determine the price. Few accompany viewings and some will handle the negotiations on your behalf.
So our advice? If you don’t have the imagination to be a big green monster but want to save money selling your house without doing too much yourself, check out Online Estate Agents but look carefully at what they do for their money and what bits are left to you.
James Cole is the editor of The Inside Edge, a UK property blog written for UK property portal The Big Property List.
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