If you’re looking to sell your home, then there’s a good chance that you’ve already looked in the windows of a few estate agents on the high street. While that’s a perfectly sensible way to do things, it’s also worth considering online alternatives, as they could save you some money when you finally find a buyer. We’ve put together a quick guide to the best online estate agents so you know who they are and what they offer.
Online estate agents vs the high street
Obviously, the main difference between the two is that you can meet a high street agent face-to-face just by walking into their office, while the online variant doesn’t offer this corporeal experience. That’s not to say you can’t communicate though, as online agents usually offer email, call centre, or instant chat options when you want to discuss any details.
Perhaps the second major factor is that online agents tend to be much cheaper to use. This is due to a different approach to commission and the kind of services on offer. Whereas high street agents will take a small cut of the final selling fee of any house, online agents usually charge a set fee. True, this is usually up front and can thus lower their drive to sell your property, but no decent agent is going to be in business long if they have customers complaining about their inability to achieve sales.
Part of this lower fee comes from the fact that you’ll be expected to do a lot of the legwork yourself. This can include conducting viewings with potential buyers, putting up your own ‘For Sale’ sign, and getting your property listed on Rightmove and Zoopla. Most online agents will actually offer these services, but often at an additional cost.
There’s also the consideration that a high street agent is more likely to have local knowledge of the housing market, while the online ones will use algorithms and online data to come up with prices and other relevant information.
Some online agents adopt what’s known as a ‘hybrid’ model, which combines a face-to-face service with online elements, so this could be a good compromise if you want the reassurance of dealing with actual people.
With all that in mind, if you are time rich and cash poor then the online route could well save you quite a bit when you total up the cost of selling your home. Conversely, if you’re struggling to keep up with the demands of work, packing, buying a new home, and all the other stresses of moving, then the high street might be a better option.
Should you decide to give the online agents a go, here’s our list of some of the best ones currently around.
Best online estate agents
- Fixed fee of £899
- Dedicated app
- High rating on Trustpilot
Purplebricks is one of the biggest online estate agents in the UK and operates as a hybrid service. The company has local property experts that know their areas very well and can provide you with a free valuation for your home.
A flat fee of £899 is charged either at the beginning of the engagement or deferred for ten months without incurring any additional cost. Included in this fee is the local expert, photography of your property that can be used in listings, support from a UK-based team, and your house or flat being listed on Rightmove, Zoopla, and other popular sites.
You’ll need to conduct viewings yourself, although Purplebricks provides the online portal where potential buyers can book them. If this isn’t to your liking, you can pay £300 (£399 in London) for Purplebricks to send one of their agents to handle the viewing instead.
A dedicated Purplebricks app allows you to receive feedback from viewings and even accept offers on your property, making it easy to manage the sale wherever you may be. There’s also conveyancing support that makes the last few parts of the process less complicated.
At the time of writing Purplebricks had a five-star ‘Excellent’ rating on Trustpilot, with over 66,000 reviews. So, it seems that many people have already found it to be a useful service.
- Only pay if your house sells
- Pay individually for accompanied viewings
- One of the lowest No Sale, No Fee prices
Housesimple is one of the veterans of the online estate agent world, having started back in 2007. It’s good then to see that the company has continued to innovate rather than rest on its laurels, with a recent switch to a single ‘no sale, no fee’ tariff making it stand out in the market.
You still get a valuation, photographs, floorplans, and listings on the major sites, but you won’t have to make a payment unless Housesimple proves its worth by selling the property. Should that happen, which is likely when you read the various reviews online, you’ll find the £995 fee actually very reasonable when compared to most of the other agents on this list.
There are a few additional options to consider, but even these seem sensibly priced. For example, rather than paying the industry standard rate of around £300 for unlimited accompanied viewings, you can purchase them individually for £35, meaning you can always do a mixture of both ones you host yourself or leave the job to Housesimple as your needs, and finances, allow.
Conveyancing is an extra cost, which can be discussed when you sign up for the service, but if you’re looking to keep the upfront cost of your move down to a minimum, Housesimple could be the one for you.
Over the years, the agent has picked up a number of awards, including the ESTAS Best Online Agent in 2018, and at the time of writing had a very respectable five-star ‘Excellent’ rating on Trustpilot from 3700 reviews.
One of the Tech Advisor team has used Housesimple to sell their house, and found the experience seamless despite being part of a long and complicated chain of houses. The local photographer they sent was fantastic, the process of uploading the house details was simple and straightforward, and arranging viewings or accepting and declining offers was painless.
- Cheap £99 starting tier
- No commission
- Handles buyer negotiations
While only having been around since 2016, Doorsteps has quickly grown into an impressive company, garnering a few industry awards along the way. One of the reasons for its popularity is the quite staggering basic package cost of £99 and no commission fee.
There are actually three tiers available. The aforementioned £99 package includes a property evaluation, listings on all the major sites, a dedicated account manager to handle negotiations with potential buyers, and a few additional services.
Moving up to the £199 tier adds professional photography of the property as well as a 2D floorplan and full description in online listings. Finally, there’s the £599 option which features all of the above plus featured spots on Rightmove and Zoopla, a physical For Sale sign outside your home, and social media promotion of the listing.
You’ll have to be prepared to conduct the viewings yourself, as Doorstep doesn’t offer that in any of the packages, but if that isn’t a problem then the money you save could be substantial when compared to a high-street agent.
As Doorsteps is still a young company, albeit now the 6th largest online estate agent in the UK, it hasn’t managed to amass the same amount of reviews as the likes of Purplebricks. But, at the time of writing, its five-star ‘Excellent’ rating on Trustpilot from over 1,500 customers is an indicator that things are going well so far.
- Costs can be spread over six months
- One tier offers pay nothing until you sell
- All packages include photographs and floorplans
Another rising star is that of SellMyHome, which offers a variety of packages and payment options. With the basic £575 level, called the DIY package, you’ll get a valuation of the property as well as professional photographs and a floor map to accompany your listing on Rightmove, Zoopla, PrimeLocation, and a number of other popular sites.
Moving up to the £875 Essential Home Selling tier brings a virtual walkthrough for online viewers, a dedicated account manager for your property, and monthly performance reports. One of the advantages of this package is that it can be paid off in six instalments via Direct Debit.
The final tier has the name of No Sale, No Fee, which pretty much does what it says on the tin. It’s basically the same as the Essential Home Selling package, minus the virtual walkthrough option which you can purchase for an additional £99, but you obviously don’t pay for anything until your property is sold. There is a catch though, in that it costs £1,999, which is quite a bit more for the privilege.
There are a few caveats to keep in mind. None of the packages include viewings conducted by SellMyHome, as you’ll be expected to do them yourself unless you opt to pay £350 for unlimited accompanied viewings. There’s also no help with the final stages of the sale unless you buy the Completion bundle, which costs another £299.
All of this still comes well under what you’d expect to pay from a high-street agent though, so it’s worth considering. SellMyHome makes the claim that it’s the UK’s number one rated estate agent, with 9.8 out of 10 on Trustpilot, and while this might be true it’s only drawn from 331 customers, making it slightly less impressive than those of Purplebricks and Doorsteps.
- Pay monthly or on completion
- Photographs and floorplans with all plans
- Award winning agent
It might sound like some kind of dairy-based drink, but Yopa is a well-respected and award-winning hybrid agent. Unlike some of its competitors, the company offers a local agent that can manage your sale, no matter which tier you choose.
There are three packages on offer, with two of them not requiring any payment until after the completion of the sale. For £889 (£1,399 in some London locations) you’ll get a valuation, pro-level photographs and floorplans of your property, a full listing on Zoopla, Rightmove, PrimeLocation and others, plus all negotiations with buyers handled by Yopa. There are a few additional services you can purchase, which include unlimited accompanied viewings (£300), premium listings on the top property sites (from £99), and conveyancing (quotes on application), and everything can be paid in instalments across six months.
It’s the same for the Core bundle, with the only difference being the price - £1,999 or £2,999 in some London locations – and the fact that it is paid once the sale of your home has gone through. Should you go for the Premium package then you’ll have all the features of the Core tier, plus unlimited viewings, as well as premium listings on Zoopla and Rightmove, all for £2,299 or £3,399 in specific parts of the capital.
Yopa has really hit its stride recently, picking up two industry related accolades. The first was the allAgents award for Best Online & Hybrid agents in the UK, while the second and arguably more prestigious is the ESTAS Best Online Agent 2019. This is in addition to the five-star ‘Excellent’ rating on Trustpilot from nearly 7000 reviews.
- No tie-ins, only pay when you sell
- 7-day fast cash sale service
- 24/7 live chat
As one of the hybrid estate agents we mentioned at the start, Property Solvers offers a choice of ways to sell your house. It's a great option where speed is of the essence as it offers a quick cash sale service that gets you up to 75% of market value and urgent sales can be turned around in as little as seven days if you are in a tight spot.
For those who aren't in such a hurry, the estate agency Express Sale Service means you get the market value but still a good deal faster than normal. One of the benefits of the hybrid service is that an sales manager will visit your property, talk you through the sale process and value it.
Everything is arranged for you: floorplans, high-quality photos, and listings on the major (as well as smaller) online marketing portals. There's a choice of three packages, all of which have no tie-ins so you can leave at any time, and not pay a penny until your house is sold. Fees start at 1.25% for the Super Saver and rise to 1.95% for the Premium Package that comes with extras such as a virtual reality tour of your property, featured listings on Zoopla, Rightmove and more.
So, you don't have the set fee option, but if you're keen to sell quickly, and you want 24/7 live chat access to a sales manager then Property Solvers is a good option.