Online agents, high street agents and the perfect balance

Online agents, high street agents and the perfect balance

At Berkeley Property, we do things differently. We are here to always get the best result for our clients who are selling and always happy to give advice to buyers who need it. There are different types of agent and all offer something that they claim will be innovative. Below we show just how each type of agent can and does work and we explain what Berkeley Property can do for sellers.


Online Estate Agents

An online estate agent will typically value your home with a view to listing it on their website. Beyond that, they may offer extras and upsell their product to potential sellers with these extras including viewings or negotiation.

Online agency fees tend to be lower than those charged by high street agents, but you often have to pay them up front, whether or not the company manages to sell your property. Fees charged by online estate agents are usually a set rate rather than being a percentage of the selling price, which could mean the agency has less incentive to negotiate the best-possible price for your home.

Although someone will visit to take photographs and create floor plans, all other contact will usually be via email. Some online estate agents will assign you a personal account manager, but you won’t normally communicate with them in person. At the same time, many online estate agencies offer online portals where you check up on the progress of the sale rather than speak to an expert.

Below are some potential pros and cons of using an online agent;



Fees: in most cases using an online estate agent will be a lot cheaper than using a high street agent. The more expensive your home is, the more you stand to save if they charge a flat fee.

Flexibility: packages can be tailored to your specific requirements, and you can often track viewings and feedback online (although some high street agents offer this, too).



Lack of local knowledge: even online agents with regional reps could struggle to compete with a high street agent who knows your neighbourhood and its property market inside out.

Legwork: some online estate agents will negotiate offers for you and act as a middleman to progress your sale to completion, but not all will. Taking charge of communications with buyers and solicitors without the help of an agent could be time-consuming and stressful.

Viewings: you’ll usually have to conduct viewings yourself, so you’ll need to be comfortable showing strangers around your home and be available during evenings and weekends.

Paying up front: if you opt for this type of package, you won’t be paying on results. In fact, you’ll have to pay even if that company doesn’t end up selling your house.

Selling price: because most online estate agents charge a flat fee rather than commission, they have less incentive to get the best-possible price for you. That said, they have reputations to maintain, and many companies claim they usually achieve the desired asking price.



High Street Estate Agents

With the more traditional agency, buyers usually have peace of mind as there is always somewhere they can go to have face to face advice and discussion with the valuer or negotiator handling the sale of their property. Traditional agents will also charge more and potentially a commission based on performance. Below, we have highlighted what some see as good or bad about high street agents;


Peace of mind: On the high street you get access to an experienced agent who can build a rapport with you and everything about your home. Often high street agents will also have sales people in place to act as the ‘middleman’ after an offer is accepted, this includes mediating with the rest of the chain and any solicitors in between.

Trust: People like to be able to walk into a shop and speak face to face to a real person, and hand over their keys to someone they can trust.

Local knowledge: High street agents are aware of local market trends and pricing levels for the area, which is something that online agents may not be able to match.

You only pay if the property sells: Many sellers would rather get a higher price for their property than pay a smaller fee. Commission based agreements can incentivize an agent to do better for you.



Cost: Commission through high street agents can be through the roof – amounting to thousands, depending on the price of your house and where it’s located. It all comes down to whether the seller is willing to take the risk.

People start their search online: The high street argument is that you have a greater chance of an overall sale – but there’s little evidence to prove this with the rise in online portals and easy access through apps on smartphones.

Timing for viewings: While the benefit of high street agents is the fact that they’ll manage viewings for you, this is often limited to their set schedules. This means if someone wants to view out of hours, you’ll have to conduct the viewing yourself, or it may simply never happen.


The Berkeley Property Approach

While both options above provide a route to sale, we believe there is a better option. Over 90% of property searches now start online, meaning that traditional shop window advertising is less effective. In fact, most buyers may never bother to look in the window given the extremely easy access to online portals. That is why we decided to still have an office locally without the need for that shop window.

Our approach is a mixture of both of the above approaches that sellers need in todays market. Our flexibility in approach to not only fees but also marketing had allowed us to tailor each proposal to our client’s needs. By offering an individual approach but still having that physical and local service of a high street agent, Berkeley Property achieves the best of both worlds. Clients will be able to choose how they would like to use us from marketing to viewings and negotiations.

Our ideals are simple – offer expert advice, market effectively, negotiate properly and help conclude the sale in a timely fashion which allows our client to have peace of mind, all while offering an extremely competitive price structure which is so important in todays marketplace.