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Selling your house fast: is it the end for high street estate agents?

In today’s fast-moving world, all that waiting around to sell your house is no longer an attractive option. People want things faster and they want to do it themselves – so will it make the traditional estate agent obsolete?

Can I get it online?

It’s a model that’s become ‘worryingly out of date’, according to easyProperty chief executive Rob Ellis. Apparently, 90% of house hunters now begin their property search online, with just one in 25 heading into an agency.

So why waste money on a physical high street presence? By the end of next year, experts predict that up to half of all transactions will be handled by online estate agents or cash property buyers – a figure that’s only set to rise. It won’t take long before both buyers and sellers realise that a journey to the estate agent is a wasted one, when they can do it themselves more easily and cheaply online.

It’s a sign of the times

Consumer behaviour has changed enormously in the last few years, and estate agents simply haven’t kept up with the shift. Rob Ellis points out that:

‘If you were looking to set up a business today buying and selling houses there is no way you would follow the model of traditional agents.Just look at the technology used in estate agents and you will see it is scarily backward… their process has not really changed in 100 years, which is ridiculous.’

But they’re no longer the only option. The market is packed with online estate agents and cash property buyers lining up to make selling your home easier – and cheaper.

A pretty penny

As house prices have soared over the last decade, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to warrant the 1-2.5% fee estate agents will charge for selling your home – particularly in the capital. Let’s say your house is worth £1m. That means you’re paying an estate agent £20,000 to sell your home, when if you lived in Leeds for example, it’d only cost you £2,000 to sell your very similar £100,000 home. Hardly seems fair.

As you need no qualifications to become an estate agent (bar a valid driving license), most have got no more idea than you do about the value of your home. You can find out for yourself how much it’s worth online, or by getting an accurate quote from a cash property buyer, backed up by qualified surveyors.

And what exactly are you even paying for? According to Harry Mount, author of How England Made the English, typically 8% of your fee goes the branch, 7% on the agent’s car and 51% on their salary and commission. Is that a good use of your money?

An expert eye?

Getting a birds-eye view of the market is much easier these days, thanks to online property search companies. You can sit happily on your own sofa and do the research yourself. Compare this with the fragmented knowledge of your local estate agent and it’s difficult to see what you’re getting for your money.

Pay an online agent to sell your home and you’ll typically get professional photographs, the floor plan, an EPC and online advertising for a few hundred quid. The description and the viewings you handle yourself – something 55% of UK residents actually prefer.

Harry Mount points out that ‘Maybe you’ll be just as disingenuous about the charms of your outside lavatory as the old-fashioned estate agents.But you won’t be mad enough to sabotage your own sale the way some disreputable estate agents do: tearing down rival ‘For Sale’ boards; pointlessly overvaluing your property; making up pretend rival buyers to hike the sale price so high that the sale collapses; concealing the sole agency agreement so that, when you try to switch agents, they hit you with a 3 per cent penalty charge.’

Discerning sellers simply won’t stand for this kind of behaviour when there are better options out there.

Moving on out

It’s a pattern we’ve seen across the traditional old models: the internet has shaken up the market by giving consumers vastly more choice. As Rob Ellis points out, companies like Expedia and last came and did what high street travel agents were doing, only better and there are easy parallels to be drawn in other areas.

Uber vs. inefficient black cabs is the first to spring to mind, but consider too how companies like Airbnb have taken on the overpriced hotel industry – and revealed we’d all prefer a home away from home than a stuffy, expensive hotel room.

Harry Mount points out that ‘No business is interested in sorting out your life as quickly, efficiently and cheaply as you are. Some things you can’t do for yourself — like brain surgery. But other simple things — like selling your own house — are much better done by you.’

The quick way

In conclusion, it’s safe to predict a steady decline in traditional estate agents over the coming years. When buyers and sellers can research markets, arm themselves with knowledge and then take control of their own sale and purchase from the comfort of their own home, why would anyone choose to employ the expensive services of an under-qualified, out-dated agent?

Private Property Buyers can make selling your house for cash even easier. Ask us for a free, no-obligation quote now and you could be completed within a week. No aggressive pricing, no dodgy estate agents. Just honest advice from qualified professionals and a straightforward transaction.

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