There was once a time, not so long ago, that the house seller had few options for selling a house other than the high street. Row upon row of estate agents, each welcoming you into their office to chat about your home and how great it is, and how selling it should present no problem whatsoever to their team of experts.
After a week or two of professional photography and visits and valuations and the employment of other devices for extracting money, your property would proudly find itself in a mix with hundreds of others from your area on the windows of the agents, and in your local newspaper.
But look at the brutal facts. Newspaper sales are falling through the floor, meaning that fewer sets of eyes see your property. Then there’s the fact that people know that most of the homes in estate agents can also be viewed online, so why would one bother to go into a high street shop?
One can understand why the more traditional seller, still wary of the digital world, wants to deal with someone on a face-to-face basis. And one might understand that the advice and physical help with measuring rooms and even putting up a ‘For Sale’ sign will be advantages to some. One can understand, but these do not tell the whole story. A high street estate agent will typically take between 0.75% and 3.5% of the proceeds of the sale of a house, depending on the valuation. The time period is protracted and stretched out, and won’t necessarily place the property in all the avenues that would enable a swift sale.
High street sellers are under pressure from two new kids on the block. The first is social media and the second is online estate agents.
To take the first: it only needs a couple of hours to set up your own, optimised website, complete with photographs (and possibly videos of a self-tour), knowledge of local facilities, contact details, and other 21st century representations. From there one creates Facebook and Twitter accounts that are regularly monitored. Viewings can be arranged, and tweets sent to people who have shown an interest in moving to the area. Later in the process you’ll need to iron out the legalities, but you may already have saved thousands of pounds. What’s more it’s not unheard of for homes to be sold 2-3 weeks after posting.
The alternative (although one could do both) is using an online estate agent, which is another money and time saver. Online estate agents have fewer overheads, meaning cheaper costs for customers in the form of a set fee. The smart seller will know exactly what they need, and perhaps more pertinently, what they don’t need.
If you simply want to get the word out there and test the water, then just pay for the listing on RightMove and Zoopla through the agent, adding your own pictures. Maybe you want a few more frills, in which case you could go for additional services.
The final lesson is perhaps this: local knowledge is important, but getting your property seen by people quickly, and getting it sold just as swiftly is more important.