Portal to real estate reality


HOME AND AWAY: Traditional high
street agencies (below left and
right) are facing competition from
innovative new online agencies
HOME AND AWAY: Traditional high street agencies (below left and right) are facing competition from innovative new online agencies

by ANDY MARINO GOING ONLINE TO VIEW, BUY AND SELL HOMES IS CHANGING HOW THE PROPERTY MARKET OPERATES EVERYBODY knows that moving home is sup­posed to be as stressful as a divorce. There are several similarities – a lot of money is involved, you see more solicitors than you ever want to ev­er again, and there’s probably the same amount of screaming and broken crockery involved. As house prices have rocketed in recent years, and loans have grown ever larger, the sense of standing on the edge of a cliff wearing a blindfold has only got worse. Luckily, at least you can now enjoy the process from the comfort of your arm­chair – more than 95 per cent of buyers start their property search online. That usually involves browsing the major listings portals, including Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location. These sites aren’t estate agents (EAs), but they are used by EAs to show what’s for sale. The listings are not free, but form part of the fee billed to buyer or seller when the deal is completed. What’s transforming the landscape of the proper­ty market is the presence of more and more so-called online EAs. They are different from the tradi­tional high street offices, although their properties will be listed online in just the same way. They claim to offer a cheaper, near-to-comprehensive online service that eliminates the need for the guys with the slicked-back hair. Online EAs also boast that their fees are much lower than the percentage-based charges charged by high street firms – and while that may be true, be aware of hidden charges and check all the details when comparing web offers. Delayed payment is often an option, but bear in mind that it will be more costly; and if you don’t sell your property they will…

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