You may have heard the term before, but what is a hybrid estate agent?
It’s a very good question, the answer to which may not be quite as straight-forward as you think.
Since online estate agents came on the scene a few years ago, ‘hybrid agents’ is a term that has been bounced around quite a lot. Using our experience, we’ll try to answer this question for you.
But, let’s start by trying to answer the question ‘what is a hybrid estate agent?’
Definition Of A Hybrid Estate Agent
There is no universally accepted definition of a hybrid estate agent.
Some online estate agents claim to be ‘hybrid agents’ because they offer the service of a high street agent but without the overheads of a physical office.
Some high street estate agents claim to be ‘hybrid agents’ because they have a website and therefore consider themselves to be ‘online agents’ too.
In some cases, both can probably be acceptable definitions.
If the online agent truly offers the same level of service as a high street agent and does so at a lower cost due to not having high street offices, they can perhaps be considered a ‘hybrid agent’.
If the high street agent has a true online presence and can accept both valuation bookings and online bookings to list a property for sale, they too can be considered as ‘hybrid’.
Difference Between Online Estate Agents & Hybrid Agents
If we accept the previous definition, does that mean that all online estate agents are also hybrid estate agents?
Online estate agents can be ultra-cheap offerings that simply give you a way to list your property on Rightmove but offer few of the other services a normal estate agent would. Or, they can be full-service agencies that offer all the usual services of a traditional agent.
Therefore, an online estate agent isn’t necessarily a hybrid one, yet a hybrid agent is always an online one. You simply cannot be a hybrid if you’re not online.
So, if an online estate agent retains low pricing but still offers services such as local property experts, full photography and floorplans, hosted viewings, and sales progression, they can be considered a hybrid estate agent.
Hybrid Estate Agents Vs High Street Estate Agents
What about high street estate agents? When is a high street estate agent classed as a hybrid agent, too?
It comes down to both price and the ability of the high street agent to accept online orders.
Many high street agents claiming to be ‘hybrid’ agents think that just having a website is enough, it’s not. That’s just a standard requirement for businesses of today.
If that website cannot accept online bookings for valuations and even listings, including accepting payments online, they should not claim to be a hybrid agent.
But it goes further than that. The most difficult thing for a high street agent to overcome so that it can be considered a hybrid agent is price.
Online estate agents have a big advantage. Without costly offices, they have lower overheads and can pass on the savings to customers.
Since being a hybrid agent requires you to offer the best of both worlds, a high street agent that charges more than online estate ones cannot be considered to truly be hybrid.
Example Hybrid Estate Agents:
Perhaps the easiest way to answer the question ‘what is a hybrid estate agent?’ is to give you some examples.
People often mistakenly think that Purplebricks is a hybrid estate agent. While they come pretty close, they fail in one key area.
They don’t offer a ‘no sale, no fee’ package. That means you pay regardless of whether your property sells or not.
Since this is very different from when you sell through a high street agent and pay on completion, they cannot be considered as true hybrid agents.
Instead, we consider the brands listed below to be true hybrid estate agents as they offer the full range of services you’d expect from a high street agent but at online agent prices:
You may have seen them advertising on TV with celebrities such as Mo Farah. You may even have seen their ‘For Sale’ boards in your area.
Yopa offer a ‘no sale, no fee’ package, hosted viewings, local property experts, and support right through to completion.
They do all of this at prices significantly below the average high street estate agent.
We have used Yopa ourselves to sell our home. We got a local agent who knew the local market and who was accessible whenever we needed him. While he would have done viewings, we decided to do them ourselves.
One thing we really liked about using a hybrid agent like Yopa was that all viewings could be booked online. And we could accept or reject them online too. The portal even allowed us to contact prospective buyers once they booked a viewing.
We have used high street agents before, and to be honest, using a hybrid agent has no downsides in comparison. You get all the same services plus some extra ones, like the online portal.
You can read more on our Yopa review.
Strike actually used to go by the name of Housesimple and so aren’t quite the new kids on the block that they may first appear.
The most important thing you need to know about Strike is that they offer their service 100% for free.
That means you don’t pay a penny before or after your sale. This makes them a really unique, new breed of hybrid estate agents.
Naturally, they still need to make money, so you’ll be able to add on some paid extras as you can with any estate agent. Yet, the core service is a full estate agency service, so you may find you don’t need any of the paid upgrades, meaning you really can sell for free.
You can read more on our Strike review.
They may offer lower prices than many of the better-known hybrid estate agents, but you shouldn’t mistake that for a lesser service.
What we really like about eSale UK is that they offer an unlimited hosting service for an extra fee. This, along with their buyer vetting, viewings arrangement service, and sales progression gives them a stand-out offering.
So, they don’t just qualify as a ‘hybrid estate agent’, they are actually one of the best that we have reviewed.
You can read more on our eSale UK review.
Perhaps not as well known as Yopa and eSale UK, SellMyHome.co.uk is a hybrid estate agent you probably haven’t heard of previously.
However, they also offer a ‘no sale, no fee’ option, optional hosted viewings, local property experts, and sales progression help.
Again, they do all of this at prices much nearer to what you would expect from an online estate agent, making them a true hybrid estate agent.
You can read more on our SellyMyHome.co.uk review.
How To Compare Hybrid Estate Agents
It’s not always obvious how best to compare hybrid estate agents. Many offer similar things at similar prices.
However, there are always some subtle differences you can compare agents based on.
For example, some may tie you into using their conveyancing service in order to gain the cheapest price.
Others may restrict the number of hosted viewings they’ll carry out for you.
The best thing to do is simply check each of the elements of the service that interest you and compare what you get and for what price.
Our online estate agent comparison table is a great place to start.
Advantages Of Hybrid Estate Agents
There are many advantages of hybrid estate agents that make them very desirable, including:
The lower costs they tend to offer over high street estate agents make them popular with a wide range of homeowners.
This was one of the big reasons why we started using hybrid estate agents. We saved over £2,000 by using one when we last sold a property.
The fact hybrid estate agents offer the full range of services a high street estate agent offers makes them preferable to standard online agents.
From our experience we would say that you even get some extras when choosing a hybrid estate agent over a high street one. The online booking portal is one of them. It allows potential buyers to book a viewing whenever they want to.
We believe this is a huge advantage. Imagine looking at some properties in the evening and finding one you really like. With a hybrid agent you can book a viewing then and there. With a high street agent you have to wait until the next morning.
What if you have a busy morning and forget about it? Or you thought your partner would do it? From a seller’s perspective, it’s an advantage if prospective buyers can easily book a viewing of your home whenever they want.
Whereas many traditional high street agents try and avoid you conducting your own viewings, hybrid agents allow you to choose who conducts your viewings.
In our experience, doing your own viewings is one of the best ways to sell your property quicker. Why? Because an estate agent sells a house, you can sell a home. And that’s what buyers are after, a home, right?
As you are living in your home, you can show potential buyers what that looks like. Rather than listing all the features, as estate agents do, you can tell them about the benefits. An estate agent might point out that the bathroom has a bath tub.
But you can tell prospective buyers how comfy it is and how many times you have relaxed in it while the stress of the day disappeared. An estate agent might tell them that the garden has a patio.
While you can talk about the last BBQ you had with friends and family and what a good time you had. This is the difference between you selling a home and an estate agent selling a house.
Unlike online agents who don’t use local property experts, hybrid agents know everything there is to know about your local area.
Disadvantages Of Hybrid Estate Agents
While hybrid estate agents can be considered as ‘the best of both worlds’ it doesn’t mean they are without any downsides, such as:
No Physical Offices
It’s part of why they can offer you such low prices, but the lack of an office you can walk into to speak to someone face-to-face won’t suit everyone.
We personally didn’t find this an issue. When we use a hybrid agent, we have met our local agent personally. And we could speak to him on the phone whenever we needed to.
Less Personal Service
Although you’ll get a local expert to oversee your sale, you’ll also be talking to staff that may not be knowledgeable about the area you live in.
We found that when we used a hybrid agent that our main contact was our local agent until we sold the house. This was no different from using a high street agent.
Once we were passed on the progression team, that changed. However, at this point we mainly communicated with our solicitor and the buyer anyway, so this wasn’t an issue either.
Should You Use A Hybrid Estate Agent?
Of course, there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to selling a property.
What works for you may not work for your neighbour, and vice versa. Some people will find online estate agents the best option, others will prefer to stick to the more traditional high street agent.
However, hybrid estate agents do offer an interesting alternative that offers many of the advantages of both online and high street all rolled into one.
We have tried both high street and hybrid agents and can recommend the latter as they offer the best of both worlds.
The fact is, the way we buy and sell properties is changing. It’s only natural that this will lead to a rise in the popularity of hybrid estate agents.