Agents are not fading away...

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QIs the writing on the wall for traditional high street agents?

AThe short answer is no – at least, not any time soon. Of course, you’re probably thinking, ‘Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?’ But, looking round at the alternatives currently on offer, I can honestly say I’m not overly worried!

Broadly speaking, there are two main alternatives to using a traditional agent. The first is to do it yourself. After all, it’s certainly not impossible to sell your own home. Some people do just that. But not many – and you need to ask yourself why.

The second alternative is to use an internet-only agent. These tend to attract a lot of media interest because they seem to be so 21st-century. After all, so the argument goes, you can buy and sell practically everything else online, so why should property be any different? Yet, some 10 years after the start of the much-trumpeted ‘online property revolution’ – and despite charging much lower fees than conventional firms – internet-only agents still only account for a tiny proportion of total property sales.

So, why is this?

Well, for the simple reason that there is a lot more to selling your home than simply advertising it on the internet. That’s just the start. If you’re considering the DIY route, for example, are you aware of the new consumer protection legislation? Would you know where to go to get an Energy Performance Certificate? Assuming you succeeded in generating inquiries, how would you qualify would-be buyers, to ascertain their financial circumstances and their ability to proceed with the purchase? The same goes for internet-only agents. Will they arrange viewings and show prospective purchasers over your property? And if the first flurry of interest doesn’t produce a buyer, what then? Remember, internet agents charge upfront.

They’ve already had their money. Traditional agents, on the other hand, will continue to work actively with you to refresh your marketing campaign – if only because they don’t get paid unless and until they actually achieve a sale!Of course, you can always dismiss all this as blatantly partisan. But just ask yourself this simple question. If DIY property sales are so easy, and if online agents do such a good job and offer such great value, how come some 95 per cent of sellers still prefer to entrust a conventional estate agent with selling their most prized asset?