Think you’d be better off selling through an online agent? Read on.

While the TV adverts for online estate agents might be amusing (someone face-planting a cake having been told they’d have got a better deal selling online, for example) what’s slightly less funny is the small yet hugely significant detail they fail to mention: the seller pays a fee whether their property sells or not.


In fact, two of a particular company’s TV adverts have been banned in their original form after the advertising watchdog ruled that they did not make this detail sufficiently clear.


What we should also highlight here is when selling through a traditional agent you only pay a fee when your property is sold. Not on the day of exchange, but the day of key-swapping completion. So you can see, it’s not just sour grapes from high street estate agents, worried about competition. It’s fact. And it’s one people are learning the hard way. While it’s in our interest for homeowners to use real human estate agents over faceless online companies this isn’t about our needs. We have a duty of care towards our clients to provide them with sufficient information so they can make a well-informed choice. Should they then choose an online agent there won’t be any nasty surprises.

If you sell your house through Chantries or any other traditional estate agent, you will pay a fee of course. After all, we’re a business, it’s how we make money. But as that fee is only paid when we have sold your house, it doesn’t pay for us to provide a half-hearted service. The harder we work the more likely we are to sell your house, thus really earning our fee.


Online agencies, however, demand payment upfront and as it’s not refundable should your house not sell, why would they go the extra mile to get your house sold? Where is their incentive? And be wary of the online agent who over values your home in order for a quick yes from you; with no pressure to sell the property an unrealistic price tag that leaves your house on the market for months on end makes no odds to them.

This isn’t just about the fee issue. There is a reason estate agents need more hours in the day. Houses don’t sell overnight. You might be surprised to know we also do all of the viewings, all of the negotiations, and most importantly the sales progression – which these days accounts for a lot of our daily work load, and is never straightforward. Who does all that when you sell via an online agent? You do. Also worth considering before selling through an online agent is this: if you want to buy through a traditional agent but your own property is online, we have no way of checking the chain you’re in and with no one on hand to liaise with it makes that part of our job impossible. So faced with a buyer who is selling online and a buyer selling via a traditional agent - providing the offer is in our client’s best interest - the latter is most likely going to have their offer accepted.


As the old adage goes: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.