How to choose an online estate agent?

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A handy guide of what to look for when choosing an online estate agent.

What are you looking for when you decide to sell or rent with an online estate agent? There is a lot of choice in the market now, and the canny purchaser needs to think carefully about the services they want and to check out the finer detail.

Cost-saving is obviously a crucial factor, but you also want to be sure that there will be somebody at the end of the phone you can speak to for advice at any time before you get started and then once you are actually marketing your property. At I Am the Agent we have trained estate agents who you can speak to and a 24/7 enquiry line if you need us. We don’t fob you off with a commission-based agent. The team at I Am The Agent is full time and at the end of the line whenever you need support.  We also believe in offering our clients flexibility, so we offer many optional services to cater for all landlords and sellers, depending on their experience at marketing properties online, but these are all optional and so there is no need to pay for a service you don’t want.

Sellers and landlords need to carry out quite a bit of research these days to dig out the details of exactly what each online agent is offering when selling or renting out a property, some less straightforward than others.

Not only is there a great deal of choice in terms of what services are provided, but there is also quite a lot of price variation too, some as different as 300%, including some ‘hidden’ extras, and it is always prudent to check exactly what you are getting for your money before plumping for the online estate agent of your choice.

Have a think about the services that are offered and consider which ones you really want, so you can decide on the package and price that suits you best. There are quite a lot of services you might consider when selling, such as:

  • Valuation & best price guides
  • Pro photos
  • EPC
  • Floorplan
  • For Sale board
  • Listing on Rightmove and Zoopla
  • Assisted viewings
  • Sales progression
  • Sales memorandum
  • Conveyancing (with not tie-in)
  • Mortgage advice

Do you want all of those? A lot of sellers these days don’t want assisted viewings as part of the deal, particularly if you plan on being the agent yourself and want to show off the property. In that case, you might be better off going for a slimmed-down, and probably less expensive, package. Also check the small print on tie-ins. Many of the online estate agents make more money by receiving commission from solicitors and mortgage companies, so make sure you have the freedom and control you deserve with your property.

On the other hand, pro photos are likely to be a very important part of the overall sales package, so do make sure they are included. At I Am the Agent free pro photos are included as standard in our Essential package. And if you are a great photographer yourself and don’t need them, you can take the free EPC instead.

That Essential package really does include the essentials, just as it says, for a great all-in price of £399 inc VAT, with no hidden extras and no pay later options (which are often not the great deal they initially appear to be). But did you know that you can always bolt on additional, optional extras with the I Am the Agent Essential package if you need them. You don’t have to decide right from the word go.

Landlords have to watch out for the small print too. Some online estate agents offer very competitive headline advertising rates, but when you look closely at the small print the landlord will find he is tied in to using that company’s credit referencing service, for example. At I Am the Agent we can offer additional services for landlords (such as EPC, gas safety certificates, credit referencing, ASTs), but these are optional extras and landlords can choose some, all or none of them.

Price comparisons

Here is a handy little checklist to help you compare and contrast what is included in the online packages and prices currently being offered by the online companies.

So let’s look at the prices and the finer details for you..Click here to see the guide