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The big debate: traditional agent vs online agent?

In common with many other service industries, estate agency services are now available online – naturally, it has its supporters and its detractors, Lee James Pendleton and Alex Gosling, have their say.

The Negotiator

James Pendleton estate agency image High Street agent vs online agent


Lee James Pendleton, Founder Director, James Pendleton

James Pendleton imageRecently one of our clients came to us having tried and failed to sell their house through an online agent. Their experience had been stressful, frustrating and expensive; they had to pay well over £1000 for a non-existent service – which ultimately failed.

They came to us having arranged all their own viewings, with many of the prospective buyers not even showing up. If they did show, they were not in a position to buy; there was even one person who viewed the property and said, “I don’t think I can get a mortgage.”

Selling a property requires understanding the buyer’s and seller’s needs, mediation, compassion and legwork by the bucket load.” Lee James Pendleton, Founder Director, James Pendleton.

Crucially, they had received no advice on how to connect to their buyers or get the right buyer. This left them with a property that was overvalued, unsold and going stale on the market.

This story is one of many. The dangers of using online agents are repeatedly made clear as people with limited time and no benchmark by which to measure their expectations are left with more work than they started with.

Selling property is a complex process and involves administration, understanding the buyer and sellers needs, mediation, compassion and legwork by the bucket load as well as an understanding of property law and the current market conditions.

This is a full time job for our team and they do it to a high standard, but for someone without training and with a full time job of their own the task of selling by oneself is daunting and sometimes, frankly, dangerous.

Another issue with online agents is pinpointing where the money invested into them goes. A high street agency relies on the quality of its service and of its marketing. If high street agents do a poor job and receive negative feedback, that feedback will impact on an actual location and an actual team whose workload could realistically decrease if a poor service is provided. Because of this, for a high street agent every client’s experience matters. High street agents must work hard to maintain a continued good reputation and to earn the trust of their clients. With online agents the structure is markedly different. As online agency teams are not directly contactable or accessible it is not clear where payments made are allocated, or whether feedback is received and taken on board.

There is no sense of urgency, once you’ve made that payment, for an online agent, to honour it through providing a service to you. Online agents are all about numbers; their goal is, in the manner of a telesales business, to build their database by reaching as many people as possible. They are about going viral; about quantity over quality.

Once you’ve paid in you’ve helped them towards their only real target, so the incentive for them to provide you with help or to communicate with you has gone.

I would like to advise those thinking about selling through an online agent – steer clear! It may seem like a bargain but tackling a time consuming and difficult process without support from a trained specialist will likely lose you money in the long run.

What’s more, in recruiting an online agent you are paying money into a target driven business whose goal is to make initial contact with you, not to actively help you with your investment.

Does an online agent care if you sell/let your property, we will let you answer that. It pays to instruct a high street agent as we don’t get paid unless we achieve the seller’s goal.

This is what I, and my company, are fully committed to.

E: [email protected]
W: www.jamespendleton.co.uk


Alexander Gosling, CEO Housesimple

Alexander Gosling image online agent?When we are asked why buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants use us, there are many answers. We have a huge marketing network and gain the most interest. House simple has a huge marketing network which is much larger than the network offered by the majority of high street estate agents who are usually on one or two property portals but not all of them (a problem that has been accentuated since the OnTheMarket debacle). HouseSimple.com is on both Rightmove and Zoopla (plus 100s more). Our reach is 180 million buyer searches.

Housesimple website imageTo date we’ve provided almost 70,000 viewings.

We sell faster. Not only do we achieve a better sales ratio (according to RICS data) but we also sell faster. Properties that go under offer with Housesimple do so within an average of 22 days vs high street agents 65 days (according to Rightmove data). This is not only thanks to our huge network but also due to our heavy focus on fantastic photography – all our photos are taken by a professional photographer with wide angle lenses to show the property off in its best light.

Our reach is 180 million buyer searches. To date we’ve provided almost 70,000 viewings.” Alexander Gosling, CEO Housesimple.

We achieve more. Housesimple achieves an agreed sale price that is 99 per cent of the original asking price. This is compared to a 96 per cent of the asking price that high street estate agents achieve. In terms of valuation guidance, we have access to all of the same online data as any other agent and with our UK wide portfolio of properties on the market we believe we are better placed than a local agent to give vendors sensible advice on the best marketing price for their property.

We frequently have clients who contact us not only having had valuations from high street agents that vary wildly in price but also unusually high valuations from those agents trying to win business who will advise the vendor to reduce the price in a couple of weeks.

We succeed more. Housesimple completes on 85 per cent of all sales, this is an impressive statistic when compared with the well known fact that most agents lose around 30 per cent of their agreed sales. Whilst we’re proud to boast an efficient progression team, we also believe that this highlights the benefit of vendors meeting their buyers (in most cases).

We save clients a huge amount of money. On average we save our clients £5889 (see HouseSimple.com/fees). We believe that selling online is fantastic value for money. When you take into account that we achieve not only a better sale price but also in a shorter amount of time, we are confident in saying that our clients are paying less for much more than the offering of a high street agent.

We estimate that we have saved over £22 million in fees to date and are now saving over £1.2 million in fees every month. We’ve sold or let over £1 billion worth of properties to date.

We’re good at what we do. We are proud winners of The Negotiator Awards Online Estate Agent of the Year and are passionate about offering clients the best service for a fair price. We are also ranked in the top 100 of all agents in the UK in terms of customer satisfaction, with a 95 per cent rating.

We have long opening hours with a team of experts waiting to take calls offering clients help out of office hours as well as during the day. We continue to invest in technology to change an antiquated process desperately in need of change to make it fairer, more accessible, more efficient and ultimately to provide an exceptional service.

E: [email protected]
W: www.housesimple.co.uk

June 10, 2015


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