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During the credit crunch, the housing market all but ground to a halt; getting a mortgage became nigh on impossible for many. People were less willing to part with their hard-earned savings and no one wanted to sell their house during such uncertain times for less than it was worth.

As we enter 2014 things are looking, in comparison, remarkably rosy for the housing market. The recession began to thaw in 2013, resulting in renewed confidence in the economy, lenders loosening their criteria and first-time buyers beginning to gingerly test the waters – the property market was moving again.

However, there is arguably a new kind of seller in 2014, a more frugal individual weathered by hard times, who is questioning the need to pay extortionate fees to a high-street estate agent. We consider the high-street vs. online agent debate, as well as what makes sense in our post-recession world.

Selling through a High-Street Estate Agent

High-street estate agents have a famously bad reputation, and it isn’t difficult to find someone willing to bad mouth one whose services they employed. However, there are a few factors that high-street agents argue work in their favour.
The most often cited factor they use is the personal touch, as they can offer a face-to-face service, from start to finish.

Local knowledge is the second factor that they propose as making them stand out. Being based in a particular area means that they can build up contacts and have their finger on the pulse of the local market, increasing their awareness of what buyers are willing to pay for properties.

The major, and many would argue overwhelmingly negative con for high-street estate agents, is the amount their services cost. Typically agents will charge between 1 and 2 % for a house sale plus VAT. When you consider that with other costs such as conveyancing fees to pay on top of this, you could easily fork out around £10,000 for the sale of a £500,000 house, it becomes clear that a high-street agent could become a money sink hole. When today you can simply head online to garner much of the local knowledge that high-street agents claim makes them special, as well as receive almost identical services from an online agent for a fraction of the cost, you begin to wonder what on earth you’re paying for.

Selling through an Online Estate Agent

In recent years the property market has made an overwhelming move to online with over 80% of buyers finding their next home on the internet– and when you look at the difference in cost between online and high-street agents, it’s easy to see why.
Unlike the high-street, online estate agents such as eMoov offer a flat fee making it far easier to establish exactly what you’re going to end up paying. At eMoov one-off payments cost as little as £395 plus VAT and can save the average customer around £3,846.

Online agents also offer the majority of the services that high-street agents claim to justify their excessive fees. With eMoov offering photos, measurements, descriptive write-up, floor plans, viewings and negotiations as part of their services; it’s hard to understand why anyone would head to an estate agent only to pay a huge amount more for largely the same process.

If people could vote with their feet the verdict seems to be out – heading to an online estate agent to sell your house is a no-brainer, with largely the same services offered for a fraction of the price.
With buyers now able to find local advice and property listings at the touch of a couple of buttons, it no longer makes sense to pay extortionate fees for a high-street estate agent to do this for them.

What do you think about the high-street vs. online estate agents debate? Let us know in the comments.

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