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

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…

  1. rich greenland

    I don’t think that is typical with High St agents is it Sam? I expect them to send me a copy of their brochure for approval, and a contract. Like you I’d be unhappy if they didn’t. I also expect them to phone me when they have a viewing, this works for them too as it demonstrates their commitment to the client. Bit of an idiot if he doesn’t ha ha!

    On the bright side, if he used his selling skills to get your instruction, hopefully he’ll use the same skills on the house 🙂 No point getting the instruction unless he can sell it too and get his commission.

  2. Sue

    This is a bit bizarre! Without a signed contract, the High Street agent shouldn’t be marketing your property anyway.

    How do you know that they aren’t turning viewings away because they are still waiting for you to sign the contract they have (presumably) sent you?


  3. Sue

    I would expect, BTW, that the contract they sent you would be at a dearer rate than as a sole agency agent. It sounds to me that you should perhaps write them and explain you have never received a contract and since they haven’t called you to chase up signature, you’ve now changed your mind and no longer wish to proceed.

  4. James

    I’m just curious as most online agents book viewings directly with the owner – often Becuase they offer a national service which would be quite literally impossible to geographically carry out at their low cost. So does your online agent carry out the viewings? And If not then you would know there was a viewing when they call to ask for you to attend.

    1. Sam

      James – that was the tipping point for me as we were about to go on holiday when the property went on the market and they offered to do the viewings. On this occasion they were able to offer a viewing service. When I return it will be down to me to do the viewings.

  5. Margi

    Hi Sam,
    Given how incompetent high street estate agents can often be, I wondered whether you’d ever considered launching your own estate agency (as you did with your lettings agency). If it is not something you’d consider, what are your reasons?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.