Online vs. Traditional

Why good estate agency solutions still beat the online only option – 6 reasons why the high-street should still be your home of sales.


Online brands including PurpleBricks & Yopa have shaken up the property market. Offering what appears to be much the same thing as high street estate agents these companies boast a huge database of buyers and take no commission fees.

However, are they everything they’re cracked up to be?

According to study from HomeOwners Alliance high-street estate agents still outperform their online counterparts – and in more ways than one;

i. Higher Selling Rate
High street agents successfully sell 82.42% of their properties, compared to just 51.98% of those online.

ii. Quicker Selling Rate
According to the data, high street agents needed just 21 days to sell their property, while online companies took 43 days on average.

iii. Higher Price Achieved
High preforming high-street agents typically achieved 100.35% of asking price, while online companies on average settle for just 95.85% of original asking price.

But why is the case?

How do high street agents still beat online alternatives? Here are our 6 top reasons why the high-street should still be the home of home sales.

1) Face-to-face service
According to Haart 90% of people said they would like high street firms to continue. This is most likely down to the face-to-face service you receive in store. Many of these online agencies simply have call centres, where more often than not you speak to a different person every time you ring. Moreover, these call centres are often located hundreds of miles away from you, removing any sense of local expertise form their advice.

2) Local Expertise
Having local expertise of an area can massively help sell a property. With more accurate valuations, more idea of what local buyers want to see and most importantly having local ‘hot’ buyers on their databases means they can shift property a lot faster than online.

3) Local Buyers
As alluded to, having a more concentrated local buyer database is often far more effective then have a huge, wide net of buyers.

Purple Bricks advertises ‘One of the UK’s largest database of registered buyers’ however this database is useless if none of these buyers are in your area.

Independent Estate Agent advice provider TheAdvisory has released an enlightening graphic to demonstrate the false-economy of large databases of buyers, using Cambridge high-street agent Cheffins to demonstrate.

Although, Cheffins’ database is far smaller across the UK, it has far more property concentrated around its local area – Cambridge. Still today, locals are far more likely to buy a property in the area and so having a detailed, localised database of property and ‘buyers’ that come with it, allows them to turnover property much faster.

Not only that but being in contact with more locals – driven to find a house in that area – means they often achieve the premium price band.

The stats speak for themselves on this front:
• 43% higher viewing numbers (when using high-street)
• 56% increase in offer numbers.
• 5% higher sale price.

4) No-Sale No Fee
Although the commission for high-street sellers can often be more than the fixed one-off payment of online brands, you only pay it if you sell. This means that unlike online companies, high-street agencies will only charge you once they succeed in selling your property.

If you post your property online, you still have to pay a hosting fee whether the property sells or not. Meaning they lack the incentive of high-street agencies, pushed to sell to receive their commission. Indeed, the higher the price they get, the more commission.

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent notes how ‘paying much less to an online agent may be tempting, especially for those on limited budgets but could be a false economy. It’s only cheaper to use online agents if they manage to sell – otherwise they’re just very expensive listing sites’.

5) All Round Expertise
Not only do estate-agents have local expertise, they have expertise in all areas of property selling. Unlike with online brands, high-street agents show viewers around for you, using their experience & expertise to best market the property. Online estate agents also can’t help with post-sale support. Elliot from We Buy any Home notes how ‘an online estate agent cannot call a buyer’s lawyers to push along negotiations (only a property professional can do that) which can make the buying process a lot slower’.

High-street agents experience means they are all-round performers unlike Britain’s online agents, who all appear to excel in different areas. Market leader PurpleBricks, for example, was found to have a better success rate -61.5%- than almost all its online competitors. However, YOPA was found to be the best at achieving asking price, attaining 97.07% on average, and the quickest sale – just 29 days on average. Getting the best of both these online worlds is impossible, so going to all-round high street agencies is your best option.

6) Marketing – Pro-Presentation in Photography
When selling your property, you want to market it as best as possible. To do this, you need professional presentation of your property. This is obviously helped with the use of agents in house viewings, however isn’t limited to simply that.

How you present your property in its photographs can have massive impacts on interest, asking price, and speed of sale. High-street agents have the experience and tools to take much better photos of property then the average person could, enabling them to present property in its best light. Unlike online agents, this service is also included.

Property photography is something of a hidden fee with online agents – as with floor plans – and can end up costing you thousands of pounds to get right. Having professional floor plans and great photographs of your property demonstrate aspects of property far better than a written description – a picture paints a thousand words after all. The visual impact of a property is vital to its sale and online agents often lack professional photography might just be their biggest downfall.

In Conclusion
As you can see, online estate agents have quite the way to go to catch up to their high-street counterparts. Their lack of local experience, service quality and visual expertise leaves their listings underperforming and stagnant. No commission fee sounds very attractive but if you sell for less, wait longer and have to front up hidden costs for photography and floor plans, the advantages start to pale into insignificance.

We at NicheCom have provided a range of marketing services from their Berkshire head office for over 20 years. We have the knowhow in marketing, understand the importance of experience and pride ourselves on our visual experience.If you need help marketing your property get in touch today here or email and we’ll be happy to help.