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Should I use an online estate agent to sell my home?

Using an online estate agent to sell your home can save you hundreds or thousands of pounds. But can you trust them to handle your most important financial transaction? We take a look at how they work, what they charge and the pros and cons of online estate agents vs high street agents to help you decide. So whether you're thinking of PurpleBricks, YOPA or Strike you'll know what to watch for.

price to sell house

What is an online estate agent and why should I use one?

Online and hybrid estate agents now handle just under 10% of all UK home sales (according to Jan 2021 Twentyci data). The biggest advantage of online estate agents is the savings you can make. High street agents charge on average 1.42% incl VAT of the sale price achieved. This means you will pay approximately £4,250 if you sell your home for £300,000. Whereas you can market your property on the main property portals through an online estate agent from between £0-£1000, with some offering to do so for free.

Discover the best online estate agents and compare packages with our comparison table 

When they first emerged more than 10 years ago, the service offered by online estate agents was very hands-off leaving you, the seller, to write up the marketing information and conduct the viewings. But in recent years, online estate agents have added to their packages and offer a more “hybrid” estate agency option and, some now offer no sale no fee packages.

With the success of PurpleBricks, home sellers now benefit from the reduced costs of a call centre operating online, alongside access to “local property experts” to get your property details and photos online, to assist with negotiation and progression and (for an additional cost) conduct viewings.

What are the benefits of online estate agents?

Without a doubt, the biggest advantage of online estate agents is the savings you can make. The cheapest online estate agent in 2022 will market your home for no charge and the most expensive charges £999 including VAT (although charges may be higher in London). It’s not unusual to pay extra if you want the online estate agent to do things like conduct viewings or negotiate with potential buyers.

In comparison, high street brands charge an average of 1.42% incl VAT, according to a July, 2018 study by the Advisory. So, if you sell your home for £300,000, you’d have to pay a high street agent approximately £4,250 in commission.

Find an Online Estate Agent

Find and compare the best online estate agents with our easy to use comparison tool

Find online estate agents

What is a “Hybrid Agent”?

“Hybrid agents”, like PurpleBricks and Yopa, are online agents that also offer services traditionally only delivered by high street agents. In particular they conduct viewings for you using a local property “expert”. This makes their packages more expensive than other online agents.

Before going with an hybrid agent that offers you a local property expert that do valuations, negotiation and sales progression, you should ask:

  • are your local experts qualified estate agents that work in your area?
  • how big a local area do they cover? (you want reassurance that the local expert isn’t covering so large an area that they will struggle to attend your viewings)
  • are there any additional costs when the local expert conducts viewings?

Purple Bricks vs Yopa & Strike fees in 2022

Purple Bricks and Yopa offer similar hybrid agent services:

  • Both charge a fixed up-front fee of £999 (£1499 in London & surrounding areas) and unlimited accompanied viewings from £300
  • Both provide a full service with an expert local estate agent that provides the valuation and assists with sales progression and negotiation
  • Both have online tools to track viewings, feedback from viewings and details of offers and the progress of your sale

So the main differences between Purple Bricks and Yopa come down to reviews and success rate in achieving asking price.

Strike (formerly House Simple) were the first to offer a free service to sell your home, which includes floor plans, photography and listings on Zoopla and Rightmove and they also offer a full service package including viewings at £699.

Compare Purple Bricks, Yopa, Strike and other online estate agents — their fees, packages, reviews, our verdict and their track-record in achieving the asking price

The pros of an online estate agent:

  • Savings – You can save thousands – yes thousands – of pounds in fees using an online rather than high street estate agent
  • Transparency – Online agents display their fees openly on their websites inclusive of VAT.  They also make the whole process, from writing the marketing advert to the follow up steps, open to the customer, usually through a dedicated online dashboard system
  • Feeling in control – You can manage everything online when it’s convenient for you
  • Flexible packages and prices – You can find the right package that suits the level of support you need and the price you can afford

Estate Agent Fee Calculator

Savings made using a fixed-fee estate agent: Compare online estate agents

Results based on a high street estate agent fee (% incl VAT) and an online estate agent fixed-fee of:

Update calculator settings

The cons of using an online estate agent:

  • Paying up front – In most cases you pay online estate agents up front – rather than on completion of your sale. If your property doesn’t sell, you want to switch from the online estate agent, then you’ll lose your money. Some offer packages that allow you to pay on completion but they are usually more expensive. Others offer deferred payment but you will have to pay this usually at the 10 or 12 month point whether you have sold or not. Pay later deals often involve signing up to a credit or loan agreement with a third party organisation.
  • Valuing your home – even online agents with “local property experts” often aren’t local enough to know your area and your road well enough to value it accurately. They will likely  value your house using online data but are unlikely to have the local expertise a high street agent has.
  • In house services – Check the fee advertised isn’t conditional on you using the agent’s in-house services, like their recommended mortgage broker or conveyancer. This shouldn’t be allowed but does happen. It’s important you’re able to shop around for the best deal
  • Time commitment – Managing everything yourself can take up more time than if you had a very good high street estate agent dealing with everything for you.
  • Conducting viewings – Where you opt not to pay extra to have viewings conducted for you, you need to be comfortable showing people around your home.
  • Unusual properties – If your home won’t be easy to sell, you may struggle without the expertise of a local, high street agent
  • Sales progression and negotiation – While in reality you’ll still need to chase progress whichever agent you use, a good high street agent will be incentivised to progress the sale, talking to both sets of solicitors to get you to completion. Depending on your negotiation skills, a high street agent may be able to achieve a higher sale price than you or your online estate agent.

Can I trust online estate agents?

We quite often get asked if online estate agents can be trusted with the biggest transaction of someone’s lives. Estate agents don’t have the best reputation as a profession. In a recent survey 70% of people said they don’t trust estate agents to tell the truth, according to an Ipsos MORI Veracity index.

First up you must check that your estate agent – online or high street – is a member of one of two grievance bodies who can pursue your claims should things go wrong: the Property Ombudsman and the Property Redress Scheme. This gives an element of reassurance.

See what reviews say about them. This online estate agent comparison table shows our verdict, which is our opinion of the agent’s offering and gives their latest TrustPilot scores and reviews. Make sure you read the good and bad reviews to understand how people’s’ experience varies.

How popular are online estate agents?

As of January 2021, online estate agents are reported to have 9.9% of active listings. The most popular online agents are Purple Bricks, Strike and Yopa.

How will an online estate agent value my home?

As mentioned above online agents operate from nationwide call centres, and are less likely to have local knowledge. This means that valuing your house is often done using online data. That’s fine as a guide, but you really need people with local knowledge to help you set the right asking price.

This can also be the case with “hybrid agents” that use local property “experts”, because the scale of the geographical areas each local expert covers usually means they don’t know the specifics of your local market and the houses like yours on your road.

This shortcoming is easily overcome by asking three local high street agents to value your home before deciding whether to opt to go online. See our guide on selling your home for the right price

How will people find my property?

Like high street estate agents, online agents use Zoopla, Rightmove, On The Market and other property portals to market your property. So while people won’t find your photo in a high street agents’ window as they go for a stroll on a Sunday afternoon, serious buyers will regularly check the portals. You will want to look at the different agents’ marketing packages. “For Sale” boards are also offered by online agents – but double check that they will erect the sign for you.

Will the photos used by online estate agents be professional?

The quality of photos used by online estate agents is just as good as those from high street agents. Just a quick look on Zoopla or Rightmove will show you the quality of photos used by the online agents you are considering. And just with high street agents, you can opt for additional virtual tours and 360 degree photos.

The cost of photography should be included in the package you choose – but you must check this, because some online estate agents may charge you extra. We believe this is an essential element of selling your house, so choose an agent that includes professional photos in their package.

Will I need to arrange viewings?

Most online agents will arrange the viewings for you and keep you updated by phone or using a dedicated online site just for you – but they won’t usually attend.

Will I need to conduct viewings?
In most cases, you’ll need to conduct viewings if you go with an online estate agent.

Most online agents will have an accompanied viewings package at an additional cost to show prospective buyers around.

You need an average of 4.9 viewings before you sell your house, according to HomeOwners Alliance research. With this in mind, we’ve researched how much each estate agent will charge to conduct five viewings, and outlined the costs in the table below.

Online estate agents’ fees for viewings

Online estate agent Fees for viewings
Purplebricks £300 or £399 in London & surrounding areas
Yopa £400 unlimited viewings
Strike (formerly Housesimple) £549 package includes unlimited viewings
esale £325 unlimited viewings
99homes £300 on select packs (8-10 viewings)
Doorsteps £400 unlimited viewings

Viewing fees checked and updated March 2021

Different online agents have different packages – and change them often – so compare who does what and how they are rated on our online estate agent comparison table.

Will the online agent negotiate a final deal with my buyers?

Some online agents will take offers, discuss them with you and negotiate the price for you.  Others will leave it up to you. If you don’t want to haggle, you should choose an online agent who will do it for you.

Before deciding, take a look out our free guide on negotiating the right price.

Will an online estate agent really care about my sale if I pay up-front?

Arguably, online estate agents do not have the same commission-based incentive as a high street agent to get you (and them) the highest sale price possible.

But online agents would argue that if they didn’t do all they could to help customers sell their homes and provide a great service, then they would be out of business.

How do I find the best online estate agent?

The best way to find the right online estate agent for you is to Compare online estate agents first. When selecting an agent, you should check:

  • The prices that are transparently listed on our online agent comparison table
  • Their TrustPilot user rating, and reviews written by other sellers
  • Our verdict of the agent, which is an honest opinion of their offering
  • How often they achieve the sale price

You can call the online estate agent, or visit their website, directly from our comparison tool – which means you could find the right company to sell your home within minutes.

If you decide to use an online estate agent, see our guide on selling your house online for more advice on the selling process.

Leave a comment (15)* Required

  1. Toni MassariToni Massari

    I can vouch for Agent Online, Bristol, as the one part of the selling and buying process in the past year that has NOT been infuriating.

    Manager Andrea Nicholls has wholly exceeded our expectation of an online Estate Agent.

    Unlike other Agents we read about, they do not demand the whole of their fee upfront and liaise constantly, yet effectively, with their clients but also buyers, vendors and solicitors.

    11 out of 10!

  2. Jennifer HallJennifer Hall

    I am currently ina dispute with Purplebricks. I believe there was a breach of contract, the Ombudsman advised a court of law. I declined to pay them after the ten months-eight months was a ‘property break’.
    Speaking to CLARS, I now find I took out a loan when agreeing to pay on completion. I was hoping PB would take me to court but now no-one seems sure how to proceed. Complete mess.

  3. Keith ClarkKeith Clark

    Thanks, your site is a mine of useful information for the prospective seller using on line agents its made me aware of things I had never considered

  4. RichardRichard

    So many additional cons left out from this article.

    Most online estate agents demand the fee be paid up front and is non refundable therefore if after 6 months you don’t sell your house you will not get any money back.

    They don’t vet buyers ability to actually buy the house. I know 1 friend who had an offer through accepted it and was told the house was then off the market. 2 months later it was finally discovered the buyer had no mortgage and couldn’t get one. High street estate agents generally won’t even conduct viewings without being sure the buyer is genuine.

    The estate agent will push through the sale helping explain any issues and how they can be resolved.

    • AKerrAKerr

      Thanks Richard. It depends on the individual online agent whether they vet buyers and provide sale progression, so we’ll make that a point to ask when choosing an agent as well as highlighting the fact most demand a fee is paid up-front.

  5. Mrs MJL BendingMrs MJL Bending

    We have just been the victims of credit card fraud through the use of an online agent. It is possible, of course, that this could happen with a local/established agent but I feel the latter would have been more astute in assessing the potential viewer as bona fide or not.
    Let this be a warning to all those who hope to sell their home on the cheap.
    We were called by our online agent to arrange a viewing. We have a lovely country property . A couple came along and perhaps alarm bells did ring when they expressed no interest in viewing the land , a major feature of our property. We allowed them to tour the house unaccompanied . They seemed enthusiastic and said they would return on another day to view the land. It was raining on the day they visited so that seemed appropriate. Within 48 hours all our credit cards /accounts were hacked and thousands of pounds of Apple iphones were purchased. This has caused no end of stress and inconvenience. And we have wasted time and probably lost the house we wanted to buy

  6. JohnJohn

    Lets get something straight here, online estate agents are not set up and run by butchers or bakers who have no idea about property, they are set up and run by real property experts, 97% of people looking for their next home use rightmove, i recently sold my property, i asked a local chain agent to come and value my house, i asked him what he thought about online estate agents, and he turned into a raving lunatic becoming more and more desperate for me sign up there and then, well that made me feel rather angry and so i used an online agent who valued, marketed and sold my property for the price a wanted and they saved me £4000, i will never use a high street agent again and neither will any of my friends or family. The end is nigh for high street agents and they just can’t come to terms with the fact that one day soon they will be out of business, good riddance to fleecing swines.

  7. PatPat

    Online estate agent Purplebricks have been around for 2 years now. They are the biggest online agent in the country in terms of stock. They are yet to make a profit.

    Emoov are the second largest online agent in terms of stock and have been around for 6 years. They are yet to make a profit.

    The ‘online estate agent’ business model is unsustainable, and any homeowners using this site would be wise to do some research and dig a little deeper about what it is these online agents actually offer.

    Sure they can work if your house is in a prime area of London or a few other select places of the UK, however 97%+ of homeowners still use full service local estate agents, despite online only property listing companies being around for almost 10 years now.

    If you are happy to pay between £400 and £800 upfront (no motivation to work hard as they already have your money), accompany all viewings (security risk) and deal with someone at a call center miles away (with no local knowledge of property prices or good relationships with local surveyors/solicitors), then by all means give one of these companies a try.

    Selling a house can be a very timely, stressful and life-disrupting event, and having a local expert at hand whenever you need them should be top of your priorities. Of course some estate agents offer poor service and are not transparent about fees, but the majority will be happy to work hard for their fee and even negotiate on it if you ask! It is up to you the homeowner to read through contracts carefully and select a good local estate agent based on reputation.

    And yes, I am an estate agent.

  8. ‘Glen at AP lawyers’.‘Glen at AP lawyers’.

    Horses for courses in truth. Finding a good agent by word of mouth, also/and researching the sale figures for each agent is a good place to begin. Someone with a professional approach and a sound knowledge of his/her practice makes all of the difference.

  9. TeshTesh

    This has to be the most inaccurate write up i have read regarding this topic. A House for most people in the UK is their biggest purchase/ asset. There is a place for online agents in the market and that place is for the cheap people just like lettings.. if a landlord is looking for cheap fee’s then expect a cheap service.

    You get what you pay its that simple.. However selling a house is different from selling a new phone on eBay or online. Like i said above this is most people’s biggest asset so meeting a local Agent and finding the right guy/girl who you think will sell your house well for you is key and who better to do that then someone local, Someone who knows the little differences that an online agent wouldn’t such as the pie shop at the bottom of the road will tailor make pies of your choice etc. You just cant compete with that level. They work in yoru best interest because they are commission driven.


    Once you pay an upfront fee, there is no incentive for anyone to want to promote your house unlike an agent who will get paid if he sells your house.its a 50/50, worth apunt first by yourself,if you have half a brain to know the value of your house, else you could have wasted a LOT of money , under valuing and selling your property.

  11. JimmyJimmy

    Just so you know, I am happy to see this post. Now I got an idea to seek a real estate agent’s help in property selling. Thanks to you..

  12. philip dillonphilip dillon

    Are you certain of the Sales figures that you are stating in your comparison chart. Eg 700 Sales since 2006 = Income of approx. 28000.00 Over 8 Years doesn’t seem like a business ?? At these rates of sales how are these companies staying afloat ?/

  13. Trevor MealhamTrevor Mealham

    Your article: Should I use an online estate agent to sell my home?

    The article is inaccurate in places, such as saying there are two redress schemes when in fact there is three – and bias to providing an opinion that favours budget agents over traditional agents.

    Budget agents charge budget fees and as such can not do some marketing traditional agents do – being main/sub agency. As such a main agent will often get other higher offers that had they been just a sole agent. Budget agents are always sole agents.

    On the page you then show budget agent adverts from housesimple and emoov, plus mention Purple Bricks. All of which can not offer main/sub agency.

    As appearing as a consumer group your section on estate agents is weighted in one direction which is unfair to those wanting a balanced view of estate agency services.

    Trevor Mealham
    INEAmls idx
    The Independent Network of Estate Agents

    • AKerrAKerr

      Thank you Trevor for your comment. You’re quite right that a new redress scheme set up a few months ago in response to the fact all agents – including property management and letting agents – needed to be part of a redress scheme come 1st October. We have added them to the list accordingly.

      We however disagree that our article is balanced towards “budget” agents. The article is entitled “Should I use and Online agents” and clearly states why consumers might use one. It also gives the reasons why they might not.

      Online estate agents offer consumers a viable and affordable option to sell their home. We welcome their presence in the market as they offer consumers more choice. We have several others guides that explain how to get the best out of your estate agent – high street or online. All of these are written to enable consumers to feel more “in the know” when they come to selling their home.

      The presence of adverts on our site aims to make the process of shopping around online more straightforward for our readers and allows us to earn some income to cover our costs. It is important to us that the information we provide is independent and trustworthy and the editorial line remains independent of any influence. We have only allowed the major players that we have researched, to satisfy ourselves they have a decent offer, to take an ad.

      The HomeOwners Alliance Team

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