/ Home & Energy, Money

Sarah Beeny: would you sell your house online?

House on computer

Would you ditch a high street estate agent in favour of selling your house online yourself? Here’s Sarah Beeny, presenter of Channel 4’s ‘How to Sell Your Home’, asking whether online estate agents are right for you.

Some people take to selling online like a duck to water, but others seem lost without a traditional high street agent. Which camp do you sit in?

Putting you in control

Saving money is one of the main attractions of using an online estate agent, with a one-off fee of around £600 rather than paying a percentage of the total value of the property.

You can also manage your sale any time of night or day. Online estate agents generally offer dedicated sale managers, to guide you through the process and assist you in your sale, but these are at the end of a telephone. So if you prefer dealing with an estate agent face to face, a traditional high street agent could be better for you.

You’ve also got more control over the process, which can be a positive or a negative. Nobody will push you into a price you’re not comfortable with and you get the choice of when it’s convenient to show buyers around. However, this may seem daunting to some. Some sellers can severely out-price their homes making it difficult for them to attract potential buyers. But with the help of a local agent or their online agent, they can ask for advice on price for those are struggling.

Sell your home in your own words

You know your home better than anyone but you may not see it objectively, so if you’re going online, get a friend around to help you highlight the key selling points – both in the written description and when you show prospective buyers around.

You need to make your home look the part. Make sure it looks lived in, but not cluttered. Make the best of empty or wasted spaces. And celebrate what’s unusual or unique about your home too – if you price it right, you’ll find a buyer.

Saying ‘I did that’!

Selling your own home is extremely satisfying and once you get the bug for it you may never want to go back to the high street. In fact you may wonder why you were ever prepared to pay a huge commission to high street agents once you realise that it’s possible to seal the deal yourself.

Would you be willing to sell your home using an online estate agent, or will you continue to sell through traditional high street agents?

Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is Sarah Beeny, property expert, Channel 4 presenter and founder of online estate agent Tepilo.com. All opinions expressed here are Sarah’s own, not necessarily those of Which?.


I sold my house through an online agency, I found the process really easy. I had a buyer interested in less than 24 hours after the advertisement appeared on Rightmove and Zoopla. Within 48 hours I had two viewings and two offers, one of which I accepted. I’m so glad I didn’t pay thousands to a high street estate agent for this simple sale. I admit I was confident in being able to describe my house better than an agent, after all in the past I remember well I was never satisfied with their descriptions. Would I do it again online? You bet I would!

C929666767 says:
13 December 2014

Just looked on the Rightmove website and it looks a though only estate agents can advertise properties, not private people!

You can’t book on Rightmove directly but the online estate agents will post it there for you

Thank you C for highlighting and KF for clarifying.

I did start out keen to use an on line agent and it was easy to set up. The problems I had was a resident tenant who did not want people being shown around and viewers who wanted to be shown with hours notice when really I needed to allow a days notice. I felt confident I could handle the showing but it kept going wrong with the family. People arriving too early and being shown around by someone not mentally fit to do this important task and me not knowing they had let them in and waiting outside for them to arrive, I am sure it lost me possible buyers, then when I did get one I was mucked around up until the day before contracts were due in and was told she had changed her mind but it kept my property off the market with people seeing it was subject to contract. whilst she kept her options open. These are the pit falls that a full time agent would have been more aware of and chased up on, add on stress and death of parent. I was glad to see the back of the tenant but also stop doing the task of trying to sell it and have had to bite the bullet and speak to a High St agent to see about them selling it. Add on time wasters who say they don’t like certain things which are mentioned in the details and you wonder why they bothered to waste their time and more so mine or maybe it is just a hobby of theirs to go to viewings. You have to be tough to do it yourself via an on line agent, they will act as go between and make that easy for you but the face to face part is not that nice to deal with. People are more demanding and brutal with comments now.

I think having a tenant in made the whole process many times more difficult for you. Thanks for benefit of your experience as it does illustrate the downsides! : )

We sold our house through an online agent and although it took us 9 months to sell the house none of the problems we had could be leveled at the agent who worked hard for us during that time.You pay your fee upfront and 2 days later a photographer comes round and confirms which pictures you would like putting on your house website along with a suitable description, it’s that easy.
The cost was £650 against a quoted cost of £2800 from a local high street estate agent and to be honest it is difficult to see how high street agents justify their high charges. The sooner we see online agents taking a much bigger slice of the market the sooner we’ll see high street agents lowering their costs.
I have never felt that high street agents do enough to sell a house having received poor service on previous sales.

My house has been up for sale with housesimple.co.uk for about a month now. I have had zero interest so far, but it’s not the best time of year to sell a house.

The process of appointing the agent was very simple and as mentioned elsewere, considerably cheaper.

Fingers crossed.

Hi Paul, how did it all go? We are considering using an online agent to sell our house (first time selling for us) and would value your feedback.

I was considering selling online but then opted for a high street agent at 1%. With VAT the fee was close to £6000 and obviously far more than doing it online however I think the agent in this instance earned his commission. The photographer sent round was very professional and spent an hour or more getting good shots. (some photos taken by agents are terrible). He accompanied all potential buyers of which there were several. The first offer I accepted was withdrawn after 8 weeks because I couldnt complete sooner. The second offer came from someone who then failed to get a mortgage. That wasted several weeks and nearly lost me the house I had put an offer on. The final buyer dragged her heels a bit and I again was in danger of losing my sellers. The agent’s negotiating skills helped enormously to keep it all on track to completion. Its restored my faith in estate agents somewhat!