88% prefer face to face meetings with estate agents

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According to a new report just 4% of homeowners used an online estate agent when they last sold-up.

The report asked 700 people about their experiences with both locally established traditional estate agents and their online counterparts.

82% of people surveyed who had sold their home through a traditional estate agent were either satisfied or very satisfied with the experience. The vast majority – 88% – also said that meeting with their estate agent was either very important or important to the house-selling process.

Respondents clearly favoured the personal approach of a traditional agent where face-to-face chats and viewings are part of the service. In contrast online agents usually just employ someone to visit the home to take photographs and do floor plans while all other contact is usually via email or phone. When it comes to viewings of properties the default is that the seller does this.

Other outcomes of the survey revealed that most people believe a traditional high street estate agent can add 5% to the value of their client’s home. Based on the current UK average house price of £221,797 this amounts to a premium of just over £11,0002.

“Getting the best price” was the top factor for people motivating why they would select an estate agent to sell their home and this was closely followed by the ability to have personal meetings with their agent.

Selling a home is a stressful experience and people we surveyed ranked this event as more emotionally taxing than any other key life commitment such as having their first child and getting married. For many people, buying and selling the properties they call ‘home’ over the course of a lifetime are the biggest transactions of their lives and that’s why the local high street estate agent will live on. Our research shows that consumers believe our local expertise will earn them more money when selling and they truly value being able to meet an expert in the local property market on a face-to-face basis – not just once, but at crucial points throughout the process.

We welcome anything that injects a healthy dose of competition into the sector but for the vast majority, the reassurance of local expertise, regular contact and inside knowledge of potential local buyers ticks all the boxes.

Despite the positive experiences and financial benefits of using a traditional high-street agent cited by consumers, most people are wrong about what they charge. The typical fee is just 1-2% of the property sale price, however 76% of people believed the fees were higher than this and 11% incorrectly believed estate agents took a cut of more than 10%.

Even accounting for a 2% fee, most people selling an averagely priced home can expect to pocket a cool additional £6,700 more by leveraging the local expertise of a high street agent.

Face to face interaction is much more effective than the lower cost DIY alternative.