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The pros and cons of ‘online’ estate agents

The rise of ‘online’ estate agents means sellers have even more choice when it comes to selling their home. The general consensus tends to be that online agents are cheaper than traditional estate agents – but is it really as simple as that?


  • Online estate agents’ fees tend to be fixed and lower than their high street counterparts. However, a traditional estate agent has expert local knowledge, in addition to a wealth of experience and access to potential buyers; so they may be better placed to get a higher overall price for your property – meaning the lower online fees may be false economy.
  • Using an online agent may offer more flexibility. Their call centres tend to be open outside of traditional office hours and at the weekend.
  • Sellers have more control over the sale of their property, from conducting their own property viewings, to negotiating the sale directly with the buyers. However, managing the whole selling process single-handedly may not appeal to some and there are many hurdles to clear in terms of sale progression, chain handling and receiving the best price for your home.


  • Online estate agents’ fees generally have to be paid up front, even if the property does not sell and with no actual bearing on the price you get for your property. Traditional estate agents are only entitled to be paid a fee once exchange of contracts has occurred (i.e. once a sale is made legally binding). It is in a traditional agent’s best interest to sell your home and help you get the best price – most online agents are paid no matter what happens.
  • Sellers must conduct their own property viewings, unless you purchase a more expensive package. You will need to make sure you are available for viewings taking place during weekdays, in the evening and at the weekend.
  • Online estate agents tend to communicate solely over the phone or by email, whereas a traditional estate agent offers tailored support and advice throughout the entire selling process. You can meet your agent face-to-face to discuss the sale of your home and to address any questions or concerns you may have.
  • When valuing your home, online agents may rely on online data or even list the property at a price you think it is worth. Conversely, traditional estate agents have expert knowledge of the local area, enabling them to accurately value your home.
  • Marketing undertaken by online agents tends to be for a fixed period of time, depending on the package you purchase, with additional costs if you need longer. Traditional estate agents, however, market your property until it sells with no maximum period.
  • Online agents generally leave sellers to deal with all negotiations with potential buyers, with no input or guidance from that agent. Meanwhile, a traditional agent will manage the whole offer process for you and also stay involved as the legal work takes place, thereby reducing some of the stress of the process for you and ensuring your sale price is achieved.

At first glance, selling your home with an online agent may seem like it could save you money. The reality, however, is a different matter.

It all depends on what price is achieved for your home versus the amount you are charged in fees, or if your property actually sells at all.

Case study;

Online agentversusTraditional agent
                             Asking price: £200,000                                                  Asking price: £200,000
Fees: £800          Sale price: £195,000Fees: £2,400 (1% + VAT)        Sale price: £200,000
Seller receives: £194,200Seller receives: £197,600

The above demonstrates that it’s not just the cost of the agent's fees that needs to be considered carefully – you need to choose your agent based on who will help you achieve the best sale price.

In the example above, using an online agent may look like you would save £1,600, but in reality, you would be £3,400 worse off at the end of the sale.

At Emsleys Estate Agents we offer unparalleled customer service, excellent communication and support and expert knowledge of the local area. We can maximise the sale price of your home and ensure you receive the best 'value' when you market your home with us.

If you’re thinking of selling your home and want the best price, we can help. Try our free instant online valuation tool or contact your local branch to arrange a free property valuation.

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 Jared Thomas

Written by

Jared Thomas

Director (Sales)

With over 16 years’ experience in estate agency, Jared has expert knowledge of the local area and the property market. He leads a team of highly experienced estate agents and is committed to providing an excellent standard of client care and satisfaction. Jared has extensive experience of all housing markets, both in cities and in villages, and does not believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach.