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Should you sell your home using an online-only estate agent?

Selling a house can be expensive. High street estate agents typically take 1% – 2% of the sale price in commission alone, so it’s little wonder that online-only rivals are shouting about potential savings. But is the trade-off worth it?

Looking at the sums, the potential savings are certainly eye-grabbing. With online-only estate agents fees starting at around £500 for a basic sales package, you could easily save yourself £1,000s in fees.

So that means if you were to sell a house for the average price in England and Wales of £188,000 you could save more than £1,300. That’s a saving worth a little consideration, don’t you think?

Weighing it up

Now you could argue that these days the main shop window for your property is likely to be on online property portals such as Rightmove or Zoopla, especially as more people move around the country when property hunting. So providing your property is listed on those websites – something which online estate agents do – then that’s mostly job done right?

But, for any of you who have been through a property sale before, when it comes to selling a house it’s about far more than just advertising.

A good high street agent would probably say they more than earn their fees by the service they offer you. Any high street agent really worth their salt will know the local property market inside out and will be able to share this insight with you. Equally if you’re getting to your wits’ end with a tricky sales process it can be reassuring to know you can pop into the local branch and talk to someone, face to face.

Many online agents do now offer an increasingly wide range of support services such as ‘personal account managers’ and 24/7 call centre support. But in most cases it’ll be you that conducts the viewings and answers questions from potential buyers. So if you’re not a natural salesperson or you’re time-strapped then this could be a lot of hassle.

Are you sold on this?

So an online agent is likely to save you some money. However, at a practical level, if you use an online agent you’re likely to end up doing a lot more of the legwork yourself.

The vast majority of people still opt to use a traditional high street agent. After all buying and selling property can be a stressful process as it is. But if your house is likely to sell relatively easily, plus you have the time and willingness to be more hands-on, then an online agent could be worth serious consideration.

So how about you, are you sold on the idea of online estate agents? Have you used one before, or would you consider it?

Would you use an online estate agent to sell your home?

Maybe, it depends on what they're offering (45%, 1,271 Votes)

No, I'd rather use a traditional estate agent (36%, 1,025 Votes)

Yes, why not? (19%, 526 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,822

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I posted a comment on this in reply to a post on another Convo by Dee, and showed figures of massive savings if you sell it yourself . The costs range from £300 to £600 the higher ones would include being advertised, as the above Convo states -RightMove -Zoopla and others . I also stated that on several websites survey,s showed a 91 % approval rate , now even if that was exaggerated and you took 20 points off thats still a lot better than a normal ,charge you high estate agent. And those online companies have a vast audience ,so I for one would give them a try if I was selling up. What have you got to loose ? at most £600 ,not several 1000,s of £££££ .


I was not aware that if you market your property yourself, i.e. without using an agent [on-line or high street], you could post it on Rightmove or any other property portal as I was under the impression that access to these services is restricted to authorised agents only.


John -until I checked up neither was I but I have even found info on how to set up your own webpage (if you have the tech info ) for Free as well as putting it on the social websites . It is amazing John , eMoov ,which has sold 520 properties has 850 properties for sale -Russel Quirk -Founder- quote-We will sell your property for a flat fee of £395+vat . Or how about not paying a penny -DIY housec sale website Tepilo run by Sarah Beeny but I agree if you want it sold quicker as well as those listed above you have Globrix-Prime Location -Findaproperty where 9 out of 10 buyers start there . The Little Green House Company offers a private house sales service from £30/month or a flat fee of £325+vat via a high profile website . Ron Houston sold his terraced house in Lewisham through -Housesimple asking price £353,000 -sold for £365,000 -he is delighted -through an estate agent at 1.6 % he would have paid £7000 (in total ) fees -total cost through Housesimple -£534 . Still not cheap enough ? Richard Patterson Director of My Online Estate Agent will market your home for just £250 . So yes John you can do it without an online estate agent ,even for free but it wont be advertised to the widest audience. I have many more if anybody doubts me.


Thanks Duncan. I think luck must play a big part when using one of the more obscure set-ups. I had heard of Tepilo and Purple Bricks because they advertise on TV and have started to rattle the high street agents but I had not heard of the others you mention.



You are corect in your assumption, Rightmove will not allow adverts from individuals:

4a. Can I sell my home privately through Rightmove?
In the UK, as part of our commitment to our users, we only work through estate agents because they are covered by the Estate Agency Act 1979 and the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991,
which requires them to be truthful in their advertising about property and affords protection to both buyer and seller. If you want to advertise your property for sale in the UK on Rightmove, you can find our members in your area by searching for an estate agent. Alternatively, ask your preferred agent to contact Rightmove about membership. If you are interested in selling property overseas and you would like to sell your property overseas, Rightmove Overseas do accept listing from vendors.


Thank you Oxford Agent.

I am surprised [or not, possibly!] that Rightmove has not updated this clause to reflect the fact that on 1 October 2013, the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 [which previously made it a criminal offence for estate agents to make false or misleading statements about properties being offered for sale] was repealed. Its scope has been superseded and greatly extended by two other pieces of legislation which regulate estate agents and other businesses involved in property sales and lettings: the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, and the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008. The Office of Fair Trading was so concerned that estate agents were unfamiliar with this change that they published new guidance for estate agents over a year ago.



I thought exactly the same when i read it myself! The new legislation is interesting in so much as it’s proving almost impossible to obtain clarification on numerous situations. In general terms we need to disclose any material information that may affect a buyers decision to purchase the property. Sellers are asked to fill out a property information questionnaires to obtain as much detail as possible. If we are dealing with a probate sale where the owner has passed away in the house we are being told that we need to disclose that information to buyers.


I am not sure where that guidance in your final sentence came from but I think it is the sort of mischievous “what-if” speculation that occurs after any new legislation is introduced. Such information should not be withheld if requested but not volunteered; it is hardly a material consideration*. There has to be a limit on what an agent can be expected to know; should you provide a feng shui assessment?

*If it were a material consideration should it not be included in your brochures and website property description? I don’t think so. Caveat emptor hasn’t been repealed!


Let me start off by saying that I am an estate agent and have been for over 30 years. There are so many other elements to this than meets the eye. The standard line is that ‘online’ (an odd phrase as all estate agents are online) don’t have expensive premises to run and can pass on their savings. Looking at my accounts the office premises (rent, rates etc) are only approximately 10% of my overall costs so they must be saving money elsewhere to operate at such low levels. There is no local newspaper advertising included in their deals so you are effectively excluding any buyers that may come through this medium. I have seen some of the photography that ‘online ‘ agents (shocking) and generally no brochures are produced. Of course the biggest saving is on experienced local people and this is something that is hard to attribute a value to. However, what does it matter if you go ‘online’ without these extras as long as you still sell your home?

let me put it this way, the price you achieve for your home will be dependent upon the number of buyers your agent can introduce. I work in the SE (outside London) and for the past 6 years we have had too many buyers and not enough houses. Simple ‘supply and demand’ states that prices will rise until supply and demand are better balanced. Let’s look at an example:

Take a £300,000 house in my area. Purplebricks will charge £798 including VAT whereas my charges would be £3,600 including VAT. Going ‘online’ will potentially save you £2,802. But this assumes that everything else is equal and it simply isn’t. Within 10 miles of our imaginary our property for sale I have a network of 8 offices employing over 50 people whereas the online model has a single ‘local’ representative. Our own professional photographer will take the photos, this will make the property stand out from its competition on the property portals, we then produce a brochure that potential buyers will show to friends and family who will back up their decision to buy. We have access to a mailing list of over 1,500 potential buyers who we pick up the phone and speak to. These are people that we know, people that we have been speaking with and building relations with for some time. We run adverts in the local press, book the viewings for you, accompany the viewings for you.

If our imaginary house generates a single offer, at what level do you think that will be? Of course it could be at the asking price but putting ourselves in the position of the buyer we’d ask if the agent had received any offers and when told ‘no’ then it’s more likely that we’d chance our arm, so lets be positive and suggest an offer somewhere between £290,000 and £295,000. So how about if there are two potential buyers? my experience tells me that we would achieve the asking prices and possibly a little more. If we had three potential buyers then it’s likely that we will receive offers over the asking price. To sum up, the difference between introducing a single buyer and multiple buyers could be anywhere between £5,000 and £15,000.

Common sense surely says that if you have better marketing and better access to buyers then this will produce better results. I would put my team of over 50 people with their local knowledge, our presentation skills, our database of active local buyers against any ‘online only’ offering. I know that we will generate those extra buyers and achieve our clients better prices over and above the potential saving on fees. In addition our service model is more comprehensive, we do everything for our clients from accompanied viewings, dealing with offers, sorting out chains (because we probably know the other agents involved) negotiating poor surveys (with our access to local trades people) and even negotiating our clients onward purchase (often saving thousands). This experience and local knowledge means that less than 10% of our sales ‘fall through’ against a national average of somewhere around 30%.

We only get paid if our client accepts an offer they are 100% happy with, if we don’t perform we don’t get paid. If you go online you will pay regardless of whether you sell or not.

Of course there are good and bad online offerings and good and bad high street agencies so you need to do your homework. I am sure there is room for both models within the industry and competition is always a good thing. The main point I wanted to make is you can’t just focus on the price, you need to look at the end result, which is a combination of the service provided, the sale price achieved and the costs incurred.


Stepping over the pounds for pence spring to mind using an online agent.

Yes they can put your property on a website like right move but they do not do a fraction of work compared to a traditional agent.

We all know how bad call centers are and this is what online estate agents are.

My opinion is most traditional agents find and negotiate the best offer and really earn their money progressing the sale its nice to use somebody that can deal with the stress so i do not have to.

leon says:
5 February 2016

The reality is online agents have found a more cost efficient way to market properties the same way as high street agents do. Without charging extortionate fee’s.

We all know the main way to sell a property these days is on the net. If this wasn’t the case then RightMove and Zoopla wouldn’t be getting 70 million hits a week.

To place a property online, wait for enquiries to come in, find a buyer then charge the vendor £4000 + is absurd!

Online = £800 ( after some research online agents can do viewings for an additional cost – still much cheaper than the high street)

High street = £4000 +

Not a hard decision really!


Ii read with interest what Oxford Agent said, as I prefer to do most things online. He makes a good case, but not compelling enough. Estate agents have such a bad press and my previous dealings mean I don’t generally don’t trust them to do all the extras that mean they provide value for money. So if i am only going to get a basic service then why not pay the lower price, and sell online only.
I do agree the online agents need to up there game too. The problem is they are only looking to gain market share from the high street agents, and it’s such an easy target they don’t have to try that hard or be that good.
The best of both will survive.
High street agents need to move away from % based fees and more of a fixed tier price structure to compete. After all what they do seems to me to be relatively fixed, so why pay a handsom % just because my house is bigger than next doors.


I agree with much of what you say Anthony
I dont like Oxford Agent who is yet another one hit wonder who whilst putting his case would not win me over…………
As I have said two of my children have bought houses in recent times
The first took near to 8 months yet the agent repeatedly said immediate occupation followed by soon,,,soon,,,soon to we went and visited the seller…………………A little firm explanation that we had made the offer on the basis that the house would be vacated several months ago got a move on

The second offer was on a vacant house and again we were told a load of rubbish……
The agent told us the septic system was tested whatever that meant but the wayleave to access it was not sorted
The water supply was supplying two properties but we were not told………
Again we visited the seller and the brother who’s yard borders the house and within three days everything was pointing in the right direction……………….Neither the seller or his brother had been asked to sign anything