Online Estate Agents: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Online Estate Agents

The real estate market has witnessed a significant transformation in recent years, with the rise of online estate agents playing a pivotal role in this change. With the evolution of the internet and technology, the traditional estate agency model is undergoing a significant shift, giving rise to a more digital approach. But is the switch to online estate agents the right move for everyone? To address this, we’ll explore the advantages and disadvantages of using online estate agents.

Pros of Using Online Estate Agents

Pros of Using Online Estate Agents

1. Cost-Effective:

Traditional high-street estate agents typically charge a percentage of the sale price of your property, which can be anywhere from 1% to 3%. Online estate agents, on the other hand, usually offer a fixed fee, which can lead to significant savings, especially if you’re selling a higher-priced property.

2. Flexibility:

Online estate agents offer flexibility in terms of operation hours. Unlike traditional agents, you aren’t confined to regular business hours. With 24/7 access, you can manage your listing, view feedback, and communicate at a time that’s convenient for you.

3. Wider Exposure:

Most property searches today begin online. Using online platforms, your property can gain exposure to a vast audience, sometimes even at an international level, depending on the platform you choose.

4. Direct Control:

The digital platform typically allows homeowners to make instant changes to their listings. This could be price adjustments, adding new photos, or tweaking the property description.

5. Access to Services:

Many online agents, like Sold, offer additional services such as a cash buying service which can give you instant funds and a chain-free experience.

Cons of Using Online Estate Agents

Cons of Using Online Estate Agents

1. Lack of Personal Touch:

One of the most common criticisms of online agents is the impersonal nature of the service. Traditional estate agents pride themselves on understanding local market nuances and offering tailored advice, which can sometimes be lacking with online counterparts.

2. Upfront Fees:

While the fixed fee can be a pro, the payment structure can sometimes be a drawback. Many online agents require payment upfront, regardless of whether the property sells or not. This contrasts with traditional agents who only get paid upon a successful sale.

3. Viewings:

With many online agencies, homeowners are often responsible for organising and conducting their viewings. For those who aren’t comfortable showing potential buyers around or who have time constraints, this can be a significant drawback.

4. Negotiation Skills:

A seasoned high-street estate agent will often take charge of the negotiation process, ensuring you get the best possible price for your property. When using an online service, you might find yourself more directly involved in these discussions, which can be daunting for some.

5. Varied Service Quality:

Not all online estate agents are created equal. While some offer comprehensive services that rival traditional agents, others might provide a bare-bones approach that leaves sellers wanting more.


Choosing between an online estate agent and a traditional high-street agent comes down to personal preference, budget, and the level of involvement you wish to have in the selling process. It’s vital to weigh the pros and cons, considering your specific circumstances and needs.

While the appeal of potential cost savings and increased flexibility is undeniable, it’s essential to remember the value of local market expertise and the hands-on approach that traditional agents can provide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Choosing between an online estate agent

Q1: What is the concept behind online estate agents?

A: Online estate agents operate on digital platforms to facilitate the buying, selling, and renting of properties. Unlike traditional estate agents, they leverage technology to reduce operational costs and often offer fixed-rate packages, making them a cost-effective option for many.

Q2: What are the benefits (The Good) of using an online estate agent?

A: Online estate agents offer several benefits such as:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Lower fees compared to traditional estate agents.
  • Convenience: Properties can be listed and viewed online at any time, providing flexibility.
  • Wider Reach: Online listings can be viewed by a broader audience, potentially attracting more buyers or renters.

Q3: What are the disadvantages (The Bad) of using an online estate agent?

A: Some of the disadvantages include:

  • Limited Personal Interaction: Less face-to-face contact, which might lead to less personalised service.
  • Dependence on Technology: If a customer is not tech-savvy, they may find the process challenging.
  • Viewing Arrangements: Customers might have to manage viewings themselves, which can be inconvenient.

Q4: What should one be cautious about (The Ugly) when using online estate agents?

A: It’s crucial to be wary of:

  • Hidden Costs: Ensure all costs are clarified beforehand to avoid unexpected expenses.
  • Quality of Service: Research and read reviews to confirm the quality of service being offered.
  • Security: Make sure that the platform used is secure to prevent data theft or fraud.

Q5: How do online estate agents charge for their services?

A: Online estate agents typically offer a variety of payment options such as fixed fees, commission-based fees, or a combination of both. Some might ask for payment upfront, while others might charge upon successful sale or rental of the property.

Q6: How do I choose the best online estate agent?

A: Consider the following when choosing an online estate agent:

  • Reviews and Ratings: Look at customer reviews and ratings to gauge satisfaction.
  • Fee Structure: Consider the cost and what services are included in the fee.
  • Customer Support: Ensure that there is reliable customer support for assistance.

Q7: Can I trust the valuation provided by online estate agents?

A: Online estate agents use local market data and algorithms for valuation. However, it’s advisable to compare valuations from multiple sources to ensure accuracy and fair pricing.

Q8: Are online estate agents regulated?

A: Yes, online estate agents in many countries are required to be members of professional regulatory bodies, ensuring they comply with industry standards and regulations.

Q9: What kind of properties can be listed with online estate agents?

A: Online estate agents usually handle a variety of properties including houses, apartments, commercial properties, and land. However, the range may vary based on the agent.

Q10: Do online estate agents offer additional services like conveyancing or financial advice?

A: Some online estate agents offer additional services either in-house or through partnerships. These services can include conveyancing, financial advice, professional photography, and floor planning, among others.

Q11: Is it necessary to have a physical viewing with online estate agents?

A: Physical viewings are not always necessary as some online estate agents offer virtual viewings. However, physical viewings are recommended for a comprehensive understanding of the property’s condition and surroundings.

Q12: What is the process of listing a property with an online estate agent?

A: Listing a property generally involves signing up on the agent’s platform, choosing a service package, providing property details, and uploading photographs. The agent then markets the property on various platforms, schedules viewings, and manages negotiations.

Q13: How quickly can a property be sold or rented through an online estate agent?

A: The speed of sale or rental varies based on market conditions, property location, and pricing. Online agents might expedite the process due to their wide reach and continuous online presence.