With people in the UK saving on average £5000 by selling their house through an online estate agent as opposed to the traditional High Street ones I decided to sell my London flat online (read about that decision here). So now it was now time for me to pick from the plethora which have popped up.
Trawling through the various companies I quickly realised that they all do pretty much the same thing, selling your home for a set fee rather than the usual commission model with price and some other little differences were the main differentiator. Most online estate agents seem to offer as standard, listings on the major sites like RightMove and Zoopla, they'll take photos, do floor plans, descriptions and the like. They'll vet potential viewers but you'll have to do your own viewings (unless you pay extra for someone to do them) and as a rule most include a service that'll work with you as the listing progresses from offer through to completion. They all give you various ways to manage your listing and viewings via an online dashboard that in theory giving you complete control.
To help me pick I went to the hivemind of Twitter and Facebook, asking friends if they had any experience selling a house online and those who came back were overwhelmingly positive about the experience. From that initial research I settled on getting quotes and valuations of my property from Purple Bricks, Hatched and eMoov.
Market leader Purple Bricks recently floated on the stock exchange and has put a huge amount into marketing itself and is to be heralded for bringing knowledge of the online estate agent to a wider market. I easily booked in a time for a valuation with on of their local property experts, and within a click of the button exported all the info to my iCal. She came round a few days later, quickly explained the process and within a few hours of leaving a valuation was sitting in my email inbox. My initial impressions were that it seemed obvious why they're the market leader but I was put off by the fact that London properties cost £350 more to list than outside of the M25. Surely the point of an online agent is costs are flat across the board? I'm already paying stupid money to live in London, why should I have to pay more to sell my house?
Next up came Hatched, established in 2006 it is one of the original online estate agents it's slowly expanded across the country and is now owned by major estate agent group Connells. They sent local representative Paul round to value my property, he was friendly, polite and having moved from a High Street agent to an online one excelled in explaining their benefits.
Finally I spoke to eMoov who did their initial valuations online before visiting if you decide to go with them. Their communication, mainly by phone was very professional and after I explained all the details of my property to them, they did some work their end before coming up with a valuation which was in the same ballpark as everyone else.
After a lot of back and forth I decided to list my property with Hatched.co.uk. For me they seemed like a great hybrid of an online and traditional agent, keen to not just list but actually sell my flat explaining they would be with me each step along the way in what, for me, was a new and somewhat scary process. I'd also been impressed with their attention to detail when valuing my property, asking me the right questions to get to know selling points for my property that even I'd forgot.
So that was it, with the online estate agency marketing growing at around 50% per year it was not only an easy decision to use an online agent but also super easy to actually list my property with them. Hatched seemed like the right choice for me, offering the right service for the right price but how would all pan out. Find out in my next instalment. If you want to read it, click here and scroll down to see all the pieces I've written for The Huffington Post.