I am often asked whether someone should use an online estate agent to sell their property, in most cases, they are talking about Purplebricks, who are by far the largest online agency. I always provide a few pointers for people to make their own decisions. These are:

You will need to sign a credit agreement to pay the fee, regardless of whether the property is sold or not. Without a no sale no fee proposal, where is the incentive to sell?

Do you have time to conduct viewings yourself? If not, they will do it for you at an extra cost.

Do you have time and skills to negotiate and chase the sale, resolving issues yourself? As the case study below demonstrates, you will need to be more involved in the sale.

If the property sells itself, then this is a great way to save some money, however, if not the property may remain on the market for quite some time, leading to below market offers and a false economy on the agency fee sales.

Not all online estate agents off this fee structure. Some offer a no sale no fee basis, similar to high street estate agents and ensure that the sale is seen through to completion. However, their fees tend to be lower as they don’t have to pay for expensive premises. These are the online estate agents to include in your search.

Purple Bricks Case Study

Marketing the property

We had been warned off using Purplebricks as once you have paid your fee up front, they are not incentivised to work on your behalf to secure a sale. However, we chose to sell through them and chose to use their recommended conveyancing company, EZie conveyancing.

By doing this we did not have to pay the Purplebricks fee up front as it would be included in the charges taken from the proceeds of any sale.We were very happy with the drafting of the sales advert and the quality of the photography. We had full control of the contents and could change or add photos as we wished. Once the broadsheet was complete, we reviewed it online, agreed it and clicked to publish. This became immediately available to review on Rightmove and Zoopla as well as the Purplebricks site.

Happy to negotiate?

The agent was in touch with us regularly and we soon secured an offer. We negotiated with the buyer on a price and agreed the sale. We were happy to do the negotiating but for some people this can prove uncomfortable and so Purplebricks do offer this service but again at an extra cost!

Ongoing contactsillouettes of 2 people in an office environment to illustrate an online estate agent in the uk

Once the sale was agreed and the conveyancing process started that was when contact with Purplebricks ran dry. However, we were happy to deal directly with our conveyancer and the purchaser to complete the mountain of paperwork. We also had the time to dedicate to ensuring a smooth sale.

Online Conveyancing Process

EZie conveyancing process is completed online which may not suit everyone. We had a dedicated conveyancer with whom we had a conference call every week. All steps that required our input for reading documents such as searches, answering purchasers’ questions etc were managed online. We could login to the secure online portal at any point and check progress of the sale. As well as the weekly conference call we could email or call our conveyancer at any point.

Lack of Involvement When Issues Arose Resulted in Delays

Our only point we were a more active Purplebricks agent could have helped was when an issue arose from the purchaser’s solicitor. They had picked up an old copy of the site plan which did not show the correct road adoption. It showed a shared access driveway which later had been adopted as part of the main road. We had to get more recent site plans from neighbours to prove the shared driveway was not an issue.

This I would expect to have been completed by the agent, but we could not contact Purplebricks so had to resolve this issue ourselves. As we had time and knowledge to do this it only delayed the process by about a week, but it could have been much longer if we did not pick this up ourselves.

Do you have time to manage the process yourself?a couple looking stressed to illustrate the hard work involved in moving house

In the end the sale went through with only 1-week delay on agreed move date. This however could have been much longer if we had not managed the process so closely ourselves. Not everyone has the luxury of time and so I can see how a managed service providing project management of a house move can be necessary.

Thank you to S Smith, Nottinghamshire for the Case Study

Any Questions?

Do you have any questions about online vs high street estate agents? If you do, post them below and I’ll happily answer.