Survey Reveals Why People Are Turning To Online Estate Agents

Property Survey
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A recent survey has revealed the most important factors to vendors when choosing a company to sell their home.

Conducted by a digital research company called VIVA on behalf of Investec, an investment broker used by online estate agent Purplebricks, the survey asked 1591 respondents the question ‘When choosing a company to sell your home, which of the following factors are most important to you?’

Below are the key findings alongside our own analysis of what this actually means for the industry. The number in brackets is the percentage of respondents who gave that answer.

#1 – Cost (78%)

Online estate agents have always focused on their ability to sell houses cheaper than traditional high street agents. Their low fixed-fee prices have often thought to be the biggest driver behind the growth of online estate agents, this statistic would seem to confirm that.

#2 – Marketing On Property Portals (59%)

The second most important thing to sellers is that their property appears on the most popular property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla. This is something which both online agents and high street agents tend to do anyway so it doesn’t give an advantage to either but does show how important it is to sellers.

#3 – No Sale, No Fee (48%)

Offering a ‘No sale, no fee’ pricing option is something that online estate agents are increasingly turning to. In fact, Housesimple became the first major online agent to work only on a no sale, no fee basis earlier this month. The fact that ‘no sale no fee’ is the third most important factor shows this move isn’t completely unjustified but it perhaps isn’t quite as important as many may have thought.

#4 – Local Knowledge (40%)

High street agents often tout their superior knowledge of the local housing market as one of the reasons to use them rather than an online agent. To some degree, they have a point but, like having ‘no sale no fee’, the actual number of people this is important to may be over-estimated by many.

#5 – Past Experience (39%)

Having previously used an estate agent is a fairly important factor for many people. This is something that perhaps gives traditional high street agents an edge as they have been around much longer, however, we can expect this advantage to be eroded somewhat if the growth in popularity of online estate agents continues at the current rate.

#6 – Referrals From Family/Friends (28%)

Again, this is a factor that many may have thought would be more important to people. Although it appears to be more important than public review site ratings, it was only mentioned as important by just over a quarter of respondents.

#7 – Local Office (25%)

Potentially another point to online estate agents as only a quarter of respondents felt it was important for their agent to have a local office they can pop into.

Our Analysis

At first glance, it would appear that there are some pretty obvious reasons why more and more people are turning to selling their home through an online estate agent.

The things that online agents tend to do well, such as offering a low cost, appear high on the priority list. Whereas the things traditional high street agents claim give them a competitive advantage such as having local knowledge and a local office appear to be less important to vendors these days.

Keep in mind though that results given will depend greatly on the mix of people within the respondents. For example, if it contains an unrepresentative sample of people who have used online agents, the results may be more biased towards making online agents look positive.

Still, it certainly raises some interesting points no matter which side of the fence you sit on online estate agents vs high street estate agents.


  • Paul James

    Paul James, is a marketing expert with a passion for property. As well as being a property investor, Paul has also worked within the marketing departments of some of the UK’s leading estate agents. Paul is the founder of Property Road.

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