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High Street Estate Agent vs On-Line Estate Agent

Within the past 10 years the internet has really taken us by storm. Whether it's your weekly food shop, next fashion fix or staying in touch with friends via social media, most of us are hooked on-line and the property market is no exception. The debate between using online estate agents over your local high street agent is one that has been bubbling away for a while now, but why? The answer to this is simple, cost! Why else would you chose to ignore the 'local' experts who have years of experience of selling hundreds of properties in your neighbourhood, for an on-line agent who is based miles away, and may never have been to the area where you are selling your property.

The common perception for those making this decision, is that there is potential to save a chunk of the moving budget by engaging an on-line agent over a high street agent. Please let me explain why I disagree.

Valuation. A great high street estate agent like Butler & Stag, who has a leading market share, can make a big difference when getting your property sold at the best price and within the timeframe that suits you. With an understanding of the fine details of an area and the local property market, they are in a good position to predict the short to medium term market direction. Our opinion will be formed from experience at the very front-line, i.e. from what the public are willing to offer today, and the general level of new interest they are registering to start their property search; all of which helps formulate our views on demand. We then need to balance that carefully alongside supply, i.e. how much property is coming onto the market and the time of year. Only when you have an understanding of both can you make a well informed decision on the correct pricing for today's market; a large market share is critical to form this opinion with any degree of accuracy.

On-line estate agents will be valuing your property remotely, by this I mean they will be looking at activity of recent sales in your area. In the London market this is a risky business, prices can move weekly so internet searches might only tell half the story. Just because a property is advertised as under offer at £600,000 doesn't mean it sold for that. This particular seller may have taken a much lower offer or in a more robust market, offers could have exceeded the asking price by some margin. Your high street expert would have their finger on the pulse and will advise you correctly.

Viewings and offers. The property is now on the market and enquiries are coming in thick and fast. Your high street agent (us) are handling them behind the scenes, sending you emails when access for each viewing is needed, we have keys and you trust us to get on with the job. We are busy, this is because we already have a relevant database of buyers to contact, looking for properties like yours.

Our on-line friends are contacting you less frequently as they are solely reliant on new enquiries from sites such as Rightmove and Zoopla. They email you with varying viewing times, most of which are during your working hours. You either agree or ask that they rearrange your viewing due to work commitments that you might have, but in doing so run the risk of losing their interest. Have you got time to manage the viewings?

At Butler & Stag, we now have several interested parties and we advise you that there are three asking price offers. We have vetted each buyer financially and for preferred timescales but feel there is nothing to split them. We suggest that best and final offers is the best way to proceed and an offer is agreed way beyond the asking price and your expectations - excellent!

On-Line and sons, have also got an interested party, but as this was a viewing you carried out the offer is made on the spot to you directly and slightly less than the asking price. You decline because you want the asking price. The buyer then proceeds to engage you in debate as to why your property isn't worth what your asking - awkward!

Progression of the sale. You have also found a property to buy and are now in a chain. Butler & Stag will take the details of the related agent(s) and ensure that timescales are managed efficiently so that all sales progress is in unison. Please let me stress that this is no mean feat.

"We suggest that best and final offers is the best way to proceed and an offer is agreed way beyond the asking price and your expectations - excellent!"

Not all, but some people can be selfish and want everything their own way, they don't care if you have a holiday booked or an important deadline at work which means you have to take your eye off the ball. They want what they want, and they want it now. A great estate agent is a great mediator, it's difficult to be one without being the other, and we can usually resolve most discrepancies.

Selling and buying property is a personal transaction, and you're not always going to like or understand your purchaser. As an agent, if I told every seller what a purchaser had said about them and vice versa, very few sales would complete. Progressing sales is about compromise and finding middle ground between each party.

Perhaps this is why when last reviewed, on-line agents only account for 2% of the UK property market.

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