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The best Online Estate Agent?

by James Cole

Earlier in the year we published How to choose an Estate Agent advising home sellers what to look for in an Estate Agent, and it turned out to be a very popular article.   A large part of this decision inevitably comes down to the personality and perceived ability of the Estate Agent – as we all know people generally buy from people they like – or so they say.

However, what about the new breed of Online Estate Agents?  You don’t really get to meet them before you take your choice, and what exactly is an Online Estate Agent anyway?  What makes them any different from any other Estate Agent?

Comparison of Online Estate Agents

We decided to do a bit of research, and so today published our Online Estate Agent Comparison from which we’ve taken the above league table of Online Estate Agents’ Websites based on a ‘WebsiteGrader’ score (this is explained in the full report).

This league table indicates the quality of the online estate agents’ websites based on a raft of factors explained in our report (Online Estate Agent Comparison 2010).

But what are the important factors for home sellers thinking about marketing their home online withan Online Estate Agent instead of a High Street Agent?

Our suggestions are:

- How established (proven) is the company behind the website?

- Are they a member of the industry Ombudsman scheme?

- Value for money – not just price, but what is included?

- How good is their website, how many clients do they have already?

- What level of service can you expect?

But the last question, and arguably most important, is the hardest to judge without meeting someone face to face and  is one of the most difficult hurdles for online estate agents to overcome, in convincing customer that they are trustworthy, helpful and efficient – that there are real people – professionals behind the website.

Download the full report here

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Ask yourself: Can I sell my house myself?

by admin

When people ask what you ‘do’, what do you say?  It’s easy if you’ve got one of those jobs with a title everyone understands, like doctor, fireman or teacher but when you run a web business you could say a million different things – webmaster, publisher, business owner, entrepreneur, marketer, social media specialist, online something or other – like many small business people.

When I explain that I’m setting up a website to help people sell their own houses inevitably people have a few questions and almost always say ‘what a great idea!’ or a variation thereof.  Often they have a horror story of an estate agent lying/ stalling/ pressuring and other hijinks that estate agents are known for. 

This reaction is always heartening and backs up my research – that people can and will sell their own houses with a little help and guidance.  I feel for decent websites like mypropertyforsale, littlehousecompany and houseladder that have been plugging away for more than 8 years trying to save people thousands of pounds and still many people do not realise it’s even possible to sell your house without an agent.  People are becoming more aware, certainly since Sarah Beeny has launced her Tepilo service using her media profile built up through the channel 4 Property Ladder programme to reassure people that private selling is a viable option.

The kind of questions and doubts I come across often concern the legalities of selling a house and many people are surprised to hear that estate agents don’t have any part to play in the legal exchange of contracts other than introducing buyer and seller and keeping the sale process moving.

It is the solicitors that review all the surveys and searches, create, review and agree the contract.  Estate agents do add value to the process through marketing, sales skills, aiding the negotiation and quite often managing the chain to ensure the sale proceeds – but they are not absolutely necessary and anyone with the time and inclination can sell their house themselves. 

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