Online agents promise to save customers money by forgoing the commission based fees for a much more straightforward fixed fee structure. The last few years have seen a surge in these agencies as people choose cheaper options, but despite this they often have hidden costs that could rear their ugly heads. Here are the 4 most common areas to look out for with online agents:
Some online agents offer a more modular service where customers can purchase ‘optional’ add-ons that bump up the cost of the service. Whilst this may be suitable for people who simply want their property on portal sites, a lot of people would be disappointed to find that their basic package cost does not cover a for sale board, photography or floorplans. Whilst the low price can be attractive, it’s often the case that this is just to lure in the customer before offering them these not really optional add-ons.
Most online agents offered accompanied viewings at an additional cost, but the manner in which this is done varies. With some you may just simply pay an extra fixed fee on top of your package and have it as a feature, whereas others charge based on the number of viewings, or people could be charged for a single accompanied viewing. We’ve also encountered one agent that when questioned about their lack of accompanied viewing ability, stated that this was a feature of their company as only the owner could truly show off their own property.
You may not be thinking about conveyancing when you first list your property, but your online agent probably is. Some offer no restrictions on what conveyancing you use, whereas others will offer a discount for using their choice. A few online agents advertise a discounted rate for using their conveyancers. However, if you choose not to go with them then you’ll have to pay an additional payment on top of the package you have paid for. One certain online agent’s pay later option means you HAVE to use their conveyancer, so check the terms and conditions to make sure that this is not the case.
You could be paying upfront for an online agent, so naturally, you want to know how long the marketing period is. Some online agents have a 6 month marketing period, which can be topped up for a small fee to extend the period for another 6 months. A word of warning on some of the pay later options – they’re often outsourced to third party finance companies so be careful what you’re signing up for. So in the end you won’t be paying the agent, you’ll be paying their chosen finance company.
At Chalk Street we offer 3 packages that clearly cover all of the features of our service, so you can rest easy knowing there are no hidden fees, no commission, and no nasty surprises. For more information, check out our fees page.