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Online estate agents… mind the gap!

I read an article in The Guardian citing a report that predicts one in five high street estate agents are likely to go out of business in the next five years.

This is largely due to the growth of online estate agents and the bulk power of large estate agency chains. You can probably add to the mix general pressures on high street businesses.

To a lot of people this will not seem to matter as the majority of properties are looked at online before viewing. Surely so long as it is on websites like Rightmove and Zoopla, what difference does it make?

From my perspective it can make a real difference. An online estate agent will get a property onto those websites and they will have a software programme which will allow bookings to be managed but, whilst they may say different, this is often where their real involvement stops.

If this does happen it leaves a gap. The estate agent is the person in the middle who is allowed to deal with all parties and sometimes this can be helpful with the right agent. I have dealt with a quite a lot of sales and purchases where this gap has left people floundering and in the dark and has put transactions at risk of falling through.

Another issue is the larger online agencies increase their revenue by charging fees for recommending services. This typically includes conveyancing and they tend to have links with large conveyancing factories.

From a customer’s perspective this means they pay say £1,000 for their conveyancing to be done, a chunk of that goes to the estate agents, and they end up with an inexperienced, overworked conveyancer based miles away dealing with their most expensive asset… so what starts as a cheap online estate agent turns into something indirectly more expensive than it first seems.

I guess with anything you need to look at value as opposed to price as the two are often not aligned, so why mess with your home?

Warren Robertson, Partner

If you would like to speak to Warren or a member of our property team, please get in touch on 01273 327272.

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