Archive | September, 2012

What’s The Best Way To Sell a Property? Online Estate Agents Vs. High Street Estate Agents

30 Sep

It’s now 14 days since the property I refurbished and wrote about here, has been on the market.  In a bid to understand the difference between online estate agents and high street estate agents I decided to conduct a real life experiment and instruct both: the property would be for sale with an online estate agent and a high street estate agent which I wrote about in Battle of the estate agents.

So what’s the verdict?

The High Street Estate Agent

The high street estate agent visited and valued the property, took lots of photos, negotiated the fee structure with me, convinced me they would sell it quick and for a good price and took keys from me.  That was the last I heard from them.


I only know my property is being marketed by the high street estate agent because one of their competitors (whom I had also invited to value the property) called me a couple of days later to say: “I see you have made your decision” because he had seen my property on Rightmove with a different agent.

That was an uncomfortable conversation.

But it was a lucky one – as without him – I would never have known the property was actually being marketed by the high street estate agent.

And so I checked.

Low and behold there it was in the prime “Featured Property” slot on Rightmove.

Looking pretty.

Not sounding as pretty as I would have liked.

But then nobody had asked my opinion…they still haven’t.

And the contract?

Well, I would tell you, but I have never received it and so I can’t.

Verdict: Disappointed.  The high estate estate agent was hugely persuasive with their selling skills, but there has been no communication since the property valuation.

The Online Estate Agent

The online estate agent visited the property, chatted with me about what I liked and didn’t like about estate agents, informed me of the online “tools” I could use to manage my property and the “dashboard” I had for my property account.  The online estate agent took lots of photos, did the measurements for a floor plan and told me the property would be live on the portals in the next 24 hours.

Within a couple of hours of the visit, I had received an email with the  sales contract attached which I had to sign and return (well scan and email as this is online after all!).

About 7 hours later I received an email with a weblink for my property.  Via this weblink I could then accept the property description and photos they had proposed, or I could amend the description, change the order of the photos or delete as I wanted.  It was down to me how I wanted the property to look. All amendments had to be verified as acceptable by their head office, but pretty much I was the one in control. So I informed them of a couple of changes to the description. Then they emailed me again to tell me the changes had been made and property would be live within 24 hours.

24 hours later I checked and hey presto it was! Admittedly, not a “Featured property” spot  like with the high street estate agent – but it was with the photos and the description that I wanted.

4 days later and I receive an email they will be doing a viewing.  I don’t know if that happened or what the feedback was as my “dashboard” doesn’t show anything.  I have chased them about this recently (and I have been assured they will look into this for me), but as yet no feedback to report.

In the meantime, I also requested a Rightmove property statistics report – this would show how my property was performing on the portal.  This was received shortly after my request and while it shows my property stats look great compared to their branch average, it doesn’t really give me a proper idea as to how my property is faring on the market.  It’s no fault of the online estate agents – it’s just that the Rightmove stats don’t really give you much of a picture (and whether you will find a buyer soon!).

10 days later I receive another email for a planned future viewing.  I logged onto my “dashboard” – but it didn’t show any planned viewings – so again I was a bit in the dark as to whether a viewing was definitely planned or not.  Although, having now seen my email today it seems it was – although the email I have just received has informed me the viewing that was meant to happen yesterday got cancelled.

Verdict: Promising, but still in the dark as to whether any viewings have happened/ are happening and what the feedback is (if anybody has viewed).

Overall: So far, this looks to be a one horse race – the high street estate agent have not communicated with me since instruction and thus I can only assume they have had no interest in the property. But, it would have been nice to have at least sent me a little email to say as much – and also to have advised me my property was now live.

The online estate agent has communicated with me, has kept me up-to-date with some of the process – but not all of the actual detail.  I really want to know if somebody has actually viewed the property and I really want to know their feedback.

Communication is king – and in the estate agency business where people are buying and selling  the most expensive assets in their lives – this vital fact seems to have been woefully overlooked.

Will keep you updated…

Battle of the Estate Agents: Online Vs. High Street

12 Sep

Today I have decided to pit the wits of a High Street Estate agent against the technological and cheaper might of an Online Estate Agent to sell my newly renovated property.

So what’s the story?

Well you may remember I was hugely impressed with the service level and price offering of Hatched who are an online estate agent and who I posted about here.

In all honesty, I was not going to entertain the idea of using a High Street Estate Agent to sell the Stevenage property after the disastrous experience I had trying to sell my flat in London (and which ended with me sacking them, which I posted about here)

So what happened to change my mind?

Well, Alan from Geoffrey Matthew estate agents changed my mind.  He was charm and persuasion personified.  I am not a person to be easily sold to (otherwise known as a stubborn cow!) but Alan was just so persuasive and I couldn’t help but think to myself: Can I really just sell a property myself using Hatched as an Online Estate agent…or will Geoffrey Matthew do something more with their High Street presence and estate agency knowledge to sell my property?

The key objective is to sell the property for the most money in the shortest period of time.

But what is the best way to sell a property?

Can a High Street estate agent sell a property quicker and for more money as Geoffrey Matthew claim they can – or will it be cheaper, less hassle and better to sell with Hatched – as they claim they will?

There was only one way to decide – and you have to imagine this in the words of Harry Hill of TV Burp fame: “FIGHT!!”

And so the battle has begun.  It is an estate agent duel.  It is a real life challenge of online estate agent vs. high street estate agent.

estate agent fight

And I have informed both agents of my intentions.  Surprised would be one word to describe their reaction…But both of them were keen to take on the challenge and prove their worth and property selling ability.

Maybe I shouldn’t be conducting this online vs. high street estate agency battle in real life with a property I actually want to sell – but in reality, I can think of no better way than to understand what really sells a property than to compare and contrast – and create competition.

And so the property will be listed with both Geoffrey Matthew as a high street estate agency AND with Hatched as an online estate agency.

The price difference is HUGE: Geoffrey Matthew are charging me 1% of the sale price + VAT, Hatched are charging a flat fee of £199 + VAT upfront and £199 + VAT when the sale completes.  If we sell the property at £185,000, my bill to Geoffrey Matthew will be: £2220 (inc VAT) Vs. just £477.60 (inc VAT) if we sell with Hatched. That is a difference of £1742.40. It’s a whopping saving if Hatched can pull it off…but Geoffrey Matthew assure me they are “worth” their extra fee..Hatched beg to differ.

Time will tell.

Get your bets placed – and let’s start a sweepstake!

The instructions should soon be live….

What Sam Bought Today: Diary of a Property Renovation (Day 18 – The End)

11 Sep

Day 18…and we’re FINISHED!!

It’s been a mad few hours putting the finishing touches to the property – hanging pictures, curtains, dusting, cleaning, polishing, mopping, sweeping, vacuuming…you would not believe the amount of things you STILL need to do even after all the *hard* work has been done.

Anyway, we’re there – and the estate agents have been round to conduct a market appraisal…

Obviously the valuation is different to the actual sale price achieved – so I’ll let you know once that happens.

But in the meantime – here is the finished article…and the estate agents valuation (vid is a bit longer to show you the whole project complete):

Until next time… when I’ll update you on whether I go with an estate agent or an online agent, and the property renovation financials!

What Sam Bought Today: Diary of a Property Renovation (Day 17)

8 Sep

Today it’s the BIG day.  Today is carpet fitting day – which creates MUCH excitement!!

To me, the project deadline for a property renovation is always dictated by when the carpets are being fitted – that’s because, I always have to know that everything “dirty” has been done inside the house before the carpets arrive.  I am absolutely obsessive about not getting dirt or anything on new carpets and so when the carpets arrive – that’s my cut off point for any other work happening inside the house.

As you may remember, I had four different carpet companies quote on the job and in the end I had to compromise my “wants” to bring it closer to budget.  The original quotes were around 2.2k-2.4k for the whole property, but in the end we have decided to keep the carpet in the lounge (which is not very old, is cream and feels good underfoot) so the total price (including fitting) came in at £1680, which was slightly over my original planned budget of £1500.

Admittedly, I still stuck to my guns on the striped staircase carpet – although I have pared back from the original very striking design and compromised on a much more “acceptable” stripe – which is less of a design statement and more of a “contemporary look”.  Funnily enough – it would appear I have chosen a popular design as my electrician happens to have just chosen the same carpet for his stairs and hallway, and also my tiler did the same earlier this year – so maybe I am “on trend” when it comes to what home-owners in the area are looking for!  (can you tell I have bored everyone who has entered my property with the striped stair carpet story!)

I know the laminate floor I am fitting in the hallway has toppled the budget, however I do feel that in such a heavy duty area this is the right choice – plus I chose a colour which will match with the stripe of the carpet and so should complete the modern, homely look I am after (fingers crossed!).

Have I got too personal about the flooring?


But, then I wanted everything in the house to match the various elements of each room – and the flooring is an important part of that.  I am not an interior designer, but I do want to try and match colours so there is a “theme” – and the property needs to feel like a modern home which will suit a buyer.  The trick is – to make the property feel personable, but not too personal.  It needs to feel like a home, not a house.  I don’t want to create a “show home” ala Barrett Homes, but I also do not want a complete “blank canvas”.

I like to put a little bit “extra” into each and every project – and this isn’t just about the money I spend on doing the renovation, it’s about the thought I give to how I can make the property have more “stand out” appeal and make it just a little bit more “special” rather than a bog standard renovation.

So for me – the highlights of this property which I worked with are:

– The Neff range and orange glass splashback – now you can really see just how big this dining kitchen is

– The downstairs additional room – this could be used as a study or a bedroom

– The spacious hall and stairway – the laminate floor and striped carpet make a feature of this area and really create a sense of space in the property

Other people may have chosen different areas to focus on – such as the large, private back garden, or maybe even the bathrooms – but I chose my 3 areas from the outset and have focused on these.  Obviously, you can always do more – but that would increase the budget and the timeline and so I made my choices early on and I have stuck to these.

The estate agents are due on Monday – and then we will have the moment of truth…

Am I nervous?

A little…

Progress so far:

Until next time…


What Sam Bought Today: Diary of a Property Renovation (Day 16)

6 Sep

My hands are killing me.

I am like an arthritic little old lady who has had too many gins and is grasping at straws.

These past few days, I seem to have become fused with a paintbrush and I have become one giant walking paint brush with bristles for fingers…

But as we now approach the close of the property renovation my “bristle fingers” have become replaced with cleaning cloths.

So it would appear I am a scrubber!

So without further ado – here is progress:

Until next time…