What's the difference between a high street agent and a budget online agent?

No doubt you will be aware of the growing number of online estate agents who have burst onto the scene offering to sell properties at a cut down price. Adverts from such companies have dominated day time advert breaks and radio commercials recently.

They are questioning the need for traditional high street agents and encouraging people to ask themselves why would I pay more for a high street agent when online agents say they can offer exactly the same service for a cut down fee?

However, the popularity of online agents has not taken off as quickly as predicted, and in most areas of the country, including our area, they have had very little impact on high street agencies.

What it boils down to is the old adage of you get what you pay for, there is so much more involved in selling a property than simply placing basic details on a property portal and hoping for the best!

Your property is probably your most precious and expensive asset and it deserves to be handled in a professional way, so what are the main reasons to use a high street agent and the differences between a traditional and an online agent?


We spend considerable time doing research before we step foot through your door, looking at comparable properties which have recently sold or are on the market in your area. As truly local agents, we have sold over 600 properties within a 20 mile radius of our office and so have intimate knowledge of not only sales prices, but the differences between similar properties.

Two houses next door to each other can look identical from the outside, but can be in very different conditions internally! An online agency often relies just on sold data available on the internet, with their “local” property expert often covering a full county, so it’s likely they won’t be as familiar with the differences. This could lead to inaccurate valuation advice, so a few hundred pounds saved in a fee, could potentially lose thousands in the sales price.


This is a buyer’s first impression of your property, so it’s imperative that your property is presented to its best. Statistics show that your property receives the most interest within 28 days of it going on the market, after that it can begin to become stale.

We will take great care in presenting your home, we will draw a floor plan, take a full description and our photographer who has professional equipment and software, will ensure the photos are attractive and show your property off to its full potential.

If it is a cloudy or dull day, we take the time for a second visit to re shoot any external shots, or come back if you have done any extra decorating or the garden comes into full bloom.

Online agents charging a lower fee will not usually be able to afford to justify the travelling distance for another visit to your property.

Some online agents even request owners take their own photos and floor plans are often then non-existent.


We will happily take care of viewings for you at no extra charge. So if you are busy at work, away on holiday or perhaps a lady on her own, it is no problem for us to show people around for you.

A member of staff with first-hand knowledge of your property can show potential buyers around, plus be able to answer any questions they may have.

Online agents offer differing packages, but the majority will just book viewings in and leave property owners to carry them out. If you are a busy working professional unable to accommodate 9 to 5 viewings, you may be turning buyers away.


We always make an effort to make sure the full sales team views your property, as we are big believers in you can’t sell something you haven’t seen!

With online agents, the sales staff are often based in a nationwide call centre, meaning buyers are having to get through a waiting system to speak to someone without local knowledge of your area and who isn’t familiar with your property.

Our customer service is pro-active not reactive, so we will keep you updated on what’s happening with your property, obtain honest feedback from viewers and let you know all the good and bad points. If a buyer has to post their own feedback online direct to a vendor, are they going to be honest or just polite? If any negative issue is being mentioned by viewers, surely its best to know about it so it can be combated.

In our experience, buyers much prefer to deal with an agent face to face, to be able to get assurance from an agent who actually lives in the same area as they are selling houses in. We do sell a good proportion of properties to buyers from out of the area, so we can give advice about schools, doctors and what facilities are in each village or town.

For example once a sale has been agreed, perhaps a survey has come back and needs quotes for required works, we find a buyer would much prefer to deal with an agent rather than having to approach a seller to re-negotiate.


Online agents are advertising they are open 24/7 but in reality are they? Or do they just have an interactive website which connects buyers and sellers by email?

Our office is open 7 days a week and we are available out of hours via telephone or email, so if a buyer calls us in the evening and wants to make an offer or book a viewing, then they can come through to us and speak to a real person who has been inside the property.


Online agent’s basic fees will always beat a high street agent hands down. An office with experienced negotiators, being able to conduct viewings at the drop of a hat, professional photography and quality brochures and advertising, and the many other services a really good high street agent will offer, cannot be done for a few hundred pounds.

Would an online agent ultimately offer good value for money? A good regulated and licensed high street agent like Goodwin Fox are not just trying to sell their vendors home, but selling it for the best possible price. This can be most effectively achieved by an experienced negotiator with intimate knowledge of the property and recent sales in the area.

Online agents do have varying packages, but invariably their cheap headline fee is for the bare basics, and they then charge extra for viewings and sales progression during the conveyancing period.

Bear in mind, an online agent will likely ask for their full fee upfront as opposed to the no sale no fee approach, meaning they will have been paid regardless of whether they sell your property or not, and especially regardless of what price they achieve for you. After all it is much easier to sell something without hard negotiation.

If you are still unsure on which type of agent to use, why not put yourself in the eyes of a buyer. Look online at the quality of the marketing materials different agents offer, how good are the photos and is there plenty of information about the property and area? Call a range of agents to request brochures, see how quickly and efficiently they handle your enquiry, after all it could be your property’s brochure they are sending out next time!

We believe we are the only local agent to offer the best points of both types of estate agency. We provide a high level of personal customer service, have a local office, are available 24/7 and still keep our fees very competitive.

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