Online listing agent or local estate agent?

As is the way at the start of a new year, there are multiple retrospective analyses and comments, trend predictors and lists of top 10s published. One that caught our eye this January was - 'The market share of hybrid and online agents dropped to just 6.7% last year, down from 8% in 2020'

A report by the property consultancy TwentyCi carried out at the end of last year, reveals that the online/hybrid sector of the estate agency industry is dominated by just three main players. The Property & Homemovers End of Year Report 2021 refers to the fact that there was a shift to online across a number of sectors during the pandemic but points out that the estate agency sector has not followed suit. Colin Bradshaw, chief customer officer of TwentyCi, said: “Such a considerable underperformance in a buoyant market will clearly raise significant interest in the viability of the business model that has failed to gain traction with 93% of sellers last year".

Thinking of using an online agent to sell your home?  

Whilst it appears that most people don't use so-called online agents, some people may at least consider using one. After all, we're online for most other transactions. Of course, you would expect us to argue passionately that you should use Ocean – your local independent (High Street) estate agent – rather than an online agent. Selling your home is most likely the biggest single financial transaction you’ll make in your life – and certainly one of the most demanding and stressful experiences, if not handled properly. So we thought we'd highlight some of the key differences between the level of service provided by Ocean and what you can expect from an online agent.

The Ocean difference, in detail

Fees – you don’t always get what you pay for…
• With an online agent, you pay a fixed fee – whether or not they sell your home.

• We only get paid when you sell and our fee is based on the sale price, so we work hard to get you the best price possible.

• Compare like for like. Headline figures quoted by online agents are usually for the bare minimum level of service only. And our fee is certainly not as much as they like to claim it is.

Viewings – not as straightforward as they look…
• With an online agent, sellers conduct their own viewings or pay extra for a ‘viewing package’.

• Viewings are time-consuming and potentially stressful – buyers can sometimes be a little unpredictable, and appointments often don’t go as planned.

• If you pay for viewings, they are usually subcontracted to a ‘local agent’ who may lack the knowledge or experience to advise the buyer.

• We provide fully accompanied viewings by your local team of experts for as long as it takes to sell your home.

Communication – the secret to a smooth sale…
• Contact with an online agent will usually be only via email, or by phone to a call centre. Local contact will be via a sub-contracted agent.

• We assign you a dedicated Move Manager who will contact you directly and always be on-hand to answer any questions or concerns face to face, you can just pop in to your local high street office.

Valuations – much more than just looking at ‘sold’ prices…
• Local knowledge is key in getting the best price for your home. Valued too high, your home won’t sell, too low and you could lose thousands of pounds.

• Online agents often use internet-based valuations or sub-contracted valuers who may cover a large area. Subtle differences of specific neighbourhoods, streets or even different sides of the road can easily be missed. Knowing recent 'offers accepted' by nearby sellers is crucial.

• Our valuers have a wealth of local knowledge and valuation experience and will ensure you get the best price possible for your home.

Marketing – attracting more of the very best buyers…
• Online agents often limit how long they will market your property. We are committed to marketing your home until we sell it, no matter how long it takes.

• They also rely exclusively on online property websites. Ocean has been online ever since there's been an 'online', we are a Rightmove.co.uk national Top 100 agent. But, as well as using the number one property portal (and this rather good website!) we also use the local press, our network of 11 Bristol offices, and existing day-to-day relationships with quality buyers to directly target a much wider audience.

Click here for more on the Ocean property marketing portfolio.

Vetting buyers – the right buyer, not just the first buyer…
• We know from long experience that the best way of selecting high quality, serious buyers is by meeting them in person and reviewing their situation. We also 'qualify' them with the help of our independent mortgage advisors. 

• Online agents generally rely on prospective buyers to supply details of their buying position accurately, or may use a third party to collect this information.

After-sales care – accepting an offer is just the start…
• We’re with you all the way, through all the challenges and potential pitfalls of completing your sale. With online agents offering just the ‘essential’ service to keep their fees low, contact is typically through call centres or via email, and they’re unlikely to go the extra mile for you.

• Managing chains, dealing with surveyors, mortgage lenders and solicitors, explaining the conveyancing process, chasing outstanding documents, and negotiating with buyers are all in a day’s work for our Move Managers.

• We believe that accepting an offer is only the start of a sale, not the end!

We are a local independent agent of over 37 years, employing talented peopled to assist the local community with all of their home move needs. We work hard to earn our fees and promise to deliver value for money. We provide a complete service and handle every aspect of selling or letting your home, so you don't have to worry about a thing.

Local estate agents

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