Sarah Beeny's How To Sell Your Home - Or not.

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Having worked in property since the age of 15, and now with 18 years experience under my belt, I feel more than qualified to talk about the most recent change within estate agency - the ongoing debate of online vs high-street estate agents. 

Sarah Beeny’s How to Sell Your Home is Channel 4’s latest property offering and raises the question of whether it’s worth eschewing the traditional route and selling your home yourself through an online estate agent? I was tweeting about this during the show and received an overwhelming response from my followers. It’s clearly a big question on sellers’ minds right now.

Sarah Beeny was on hand to start the show’s vendors off, and not only did she give them some basic pointers, she also called in local experts who guided them on the price they should hope to achieve. But what if that sweet couple from Nottingham hadn’t had the benefit of these experts’ advice? Would their home have sold for as much as it did?

Firstly, let me be very clear. There are plenty of traditional estate agents out there who offer second rate technology, don’t do accompanied viewings and quite frankly, provide their clients minimum service levels. With this lacklustre attitude toward their own customers, these guys can’t hope to compete with online agents and in my opinion, their days are numbered.

However, I’m pleased to say there are talented, reliable local estate agents on the high street who actually prioritise their clients. They have the experience to help people make a good profit on their homes; making up the money vendors might be tempted to save on the lower fees charged by online agents - who, by their very nature can’t bespoke their service to the needs of the individual. I recently heard of a case where an online agent sold a property for around £300,000 lower than what it was worth – hardly a great endorsement. 

A major point that the show failed to mention: estate agents work on a no-sale, no-fee basis and good ones will invest in you, the seller, immediately. For instance at Haus, we’re totally committed as soon as we’re given a property to sell, from organising professional photography through to preparing floor plans, designing quality brochures and taking the time to list the property in all the right places.  Some online agents do offer this, but under the guise of ‘added extras’, so you could find your low fees quickly spiralling before you know it.

What’s more, their reach is restricted because their presence is online only. What about those buyers who want to put their trust in a local agent with a profile in their area? High-street agents are online, have a local presence in your neighbourhood, can bespoke their service to you and have extensive local knowledge at their fingertips. This is how they show their worth and, in my opinion, how you exceed the price you’d achieve online for your sale.

A great high-street agent will truly earn their fee by working with you to make your sale run smoothly. They’ll exercise their database to build a solid interest in your property and if the market is tough, they should understand your buyer’s strengths and motivate them to commit to your property. In my experience, people are always happy to pay for quality. At Haus, we’re anything but traditional, but we’re based on the high-street for good reason.

When it comes to the online vs high-street debate – there’s clearly more than meets the eye. It’s early days for the online agents and no doubt some sellers will be tempted by low fees. But, a word to the wise: all that glitters is not gold...

Jamie Lester


Property Valuation

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