This Video Demonstrates Everything That’s Wrong With High Street Estate Agents

High Street Vs Online Estate Agents
This video isn’t new, but what it contains demonstrates perfectly why people are turning away from traditional estate agents and opting to use their online equivalents instead.

Watch the video for yourself first, then we’ll pull it apart and explain exactly how this shows everything that’s wrong with high street estate agents.

High Street Vs Online Estate Agents – BBC’s The One Show:

So, here we have a traditional high street estate agent exchanging frank and honest views with the founder of one of the UK’s cheapest online estate agents on the BBC’s The One Show.

If we’re honest, this opening section is a pretty tame exchange. Both are guilty of pushing the same lines that are peddled by estate agents all over the country.

High street agents say that their local knowledge is what gives them the edge, online agents say that they offer the same service for a cheaper price.

If we had to pick a winner from these early exchanges it would probably be the high street agent. That’s mostly because the online agent is repetitive in her point and fails to mention some of the other benefits online estate agents can offer; such as longer opening hours and online viewing management.

But, Things Are About To Hot Up

The next part of the clip is where things get REALLY interesting and shows exactly how traditional estate agents have stopped trying to ‘sell’ properties.

Around 2 minutes into the clip, you meet an everyday homeowner, Deb, who wants to sell her property. She’s chosen to use an online estate agent and that means she has to conduct viewings herself.

Over the next few minutes, we see footage from the viewings she conducts as well as viewings conducted by the high street agent. The difference is startling.

Let’s start with the homeowner, Deb. 

Comments Made By The Homeowner During The Viewings

Homeowner Conducted Viewing

[02:24] Although appearing nervous, Deb is starting to ‘sell’ her property without even realising it. She’s made a point of mentioning how she uses the outdoor space, setting a scene that most people can relate to. She’s pointed out a clear benefit to the potential buyers while remaining completely genuine.

When asked if all the window shutters work:

Window Shutters Keeping Heat In

[02:34] Boom! This is perfect. Deb doesn’t just answer the question, she immediately follows up with a major benefit. The potential buyer didn’t ask about heat loss, but, who doesn’t want to keep their house warmer in winter? Especially with ever-increasing energy costs!

It’s this kind of knowledge about their home that gives homeowners a clear advantage over estate agents when it comes to ‘selling’ a property during a viewing. The estate agent may not have known how good the shutters were at preventing heat loss. Even if they did, saying it would sound less genuine, as the person viewing the property knows the agent has never lived in the flat.

When asked whether there is any noise from the street:

Being Honest About Noisy House

[03:38] This was a difficult question and not one that’s easy to answer. It’s perhaps one of Debs shakier answers but, importantly, it comes across as very honest. That alone adds credibility to all of the good things that she has told them. If she tells the truth about this negative, she’s probably telling the truth about all the positives, too.

There were also a couple of questions that Deb wasn’t able to answer, such as whether there were floorboards under the carpet. While it’s always good to find out information that potential buyers are likely to want to know, you can’t ever prepare for every single question you will be asked.

Besides, the chances are, if the owner of the property doesn’t know the answer to such a question, an estate agent definitely won’t!

Comments Made By The Estate Agent During The Viewings

Estate Agent Conducted Viewings

[02:48] We haven’t edited any of the above, that’s exactly what the estate agent said. See the difference compared to the way the homeowner describes the property? She described things in a very visual way with emotion and lots of benefits. The estate agent is simply listing lots of features that mean very little. There are no benefits. There is little value in what he says as it’s all things people can see for themselves.

Unfortunately, this is how most estate agents conduct viewings. They don’t know as much about the property as the owner and so tend to slip into listing facts, rather than describing the actual benefits of a property.

Selling Property With Interesting Facts

[03:00] Now, this is interesting and would make a good little dinner party story for the next owners of the property. For that reason, we don’t think it’s a bad thing to mention. However, on its own, it’s not enough to make anyone want to buy the property.

When asked whether there is any noise from the street:

Property On Noisy Street

[03:27] On the surface it appears like a good answer, but, is it a convincing one? For starters, the way you walk home from the pub surely depends on where you are going. If the street happens to have several student flats, for example, the existence of Upper Bristol Road may make no difference. This answer reaks of an estate agent thinking on his feet and telling the potential buyer what he thinks they want to hear. Many buyers will see through that.

The Verdict – According To The Potential Buyers

At the end of the clip, each of potential buyers was asked based on the viewings they had just had, if high street agents with viewings conducted by an estate agent were better, or if online estate agents with viewings conducted by the homeowner were better.

Of the five viewers, only ONE opted for the high street agent:

People Prefer Online Estate Agents

Here’s what they had to say…

Potential Buyers 1 & 2 – Both Voted For Online Estate Agents:

Why Conduct Your Own Viewings

[04:22] This is something that no estate agent can reliably replicate. Selling anything you’ve never owned or experienced is difficult and properties are no different. That’s why the homeowners often have the advantage when it comes to conducting viewings.

Potential Buyer 3 – Voted For High Street Estate Agents:

Why Use An Estate Agent

[04:29] This is a fair point. Undoubtedly some people will not feel confident asking probing questions of the owners of a property. And this shows that there IS still a place for estate agents in conducting viewings, but you have to feel they’ll need to up their game somewhat.

The video then finishes on the point that, given the potential savings online estate agents offer, it’s likely that going forward, a lot more homeowners will be selling properties through an online estate agent (where you tend to conduct your own viewings), rather than a traditional high street agent.

The Verdict – Our View

I feel it’s time I mentioned my own personal experience when selling through a high street agent. Of the eight viewings that were conducted on my property several years ago, four of them were conducted by myself, and four were conducted by the estate agent.

I received offers close to, or at the asking price, from every single person I showed around the property. Not a single person who viewed my property with the estate agent even put in an offer.

Of course, we are dealing with small sample sizes here so this may be nothing more than a coincidence. However, there is certainly some sound logic that can be used to explain why homeowners might be better at selling their home than estate agents.

High Street Estate Agents Need To Improve

That’s not to say that all high street agents are bad. Far from it. But finding good estate agents that know how to sell the true benefits of your property is getting harder and harder.

With most people starting their property search by browsing online portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla, coupled with the fact most homeowners can probably sell their property better than their estate agent, there are becoming fewer and fewer reasons for homeowners to sell properties via the traditional means.

And that’s exactly why online estate agents are rising in popularity. Add in the significant cost savings to be made and it’s hard to see traditional high street estate agents sticking around unless they make significant changes to the way they do business.

If, after reading this, you’re considering conducting viewings yourself on your own property, check out our guide on how to do your own house viewings.

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6 Comments on “This Video Demonstrates Everything That’s Wrong With High Street Estate Agents”

  1. I completely agree with this assessment. When we sold our property, the estate agent was pretty rubbish. We were just another number for them.

  2. To be fair I think it entirely depends on your estate agent. They are not all bad – ours was actually really good at selling our bungalow – better than we would have been!!!

  3. The last property I bought I had a mix of viewings with the homeowner and with an agent. Hands down I had a better experience with the actual homeowner themselves as they was able to tell me far more and could answer every question I had. Obviously there’s the risk that a homeowner could say the wrong thing and put off a potential sale, so there’s pros and cons to both approaches I think!

    1. Most definitely Karl! It’s not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ but I think many people would be pleasantly surprised at how good they are at selling the plus points of their home to potential buyers.

  4. Watching this makes you wonder what real benefits estate agents bring to the table. Obviously some people will want a Pro to take care of their sale, but I think that’s becoming misguided, as they tend to use the same canned comments and blurb when selling houses. Because the seller has lived in the property, they can offer potential buyers so much more in relation to the ‘experience’ of living there and I’m sure I’m not alone in the fact that I think that’s unbelievably important. As this is the biggest purchase of your life, surely you need more info than with any other? The present owner is the best source of that.

    1. There are certainly some things the owner will always be able to answer better than an estate agent so you won’t hear us disagreeing with your points Phil! Thanks for commenting.

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