St Albans Chartered Surveyor explains why it pays to use a high street agent to sell your property

St Albans high street - with its array of estate agencies

St Albans high street - with its array of estate agencies - Credit: Archant

Even though everything’s online now - by no means has high street shopping become obsolete.

I read a great tweet last week from a High Street estate agent: “Potential vendor was thinking of going with ‘online’ agent. I said ‘Good, I’m an online agent and I’ll throw in the office free’. Got the gig.”

This got me thinking - the internet has greatly affected the way we buy and sell property. But is it the be-all and end-all?

Less than 3 per cent of property sales are conducted through online agencies, so it is still a niche market. Recent research confirms that most home-owners would choose a traditional estate agent if they had to sell today.

So the High Street agent is still the preferred choice; but we can’t ignore that the internet has become the first place we go to on our way to buying or selling a property. The internet alerts buyers to new properties that have come onto the market and advertises property to a wider audience than ever before.

But just consider what the internet won’t do.

The internet won’t put the correct price on your property, it won’t tell you what is about to come on the market and it won’t persuade someone to view a property when their first instinct was not to. It won’t negotiate a price or deal amid a crisis, such as losing a mortgage or receiving a negative survey report. It won’t take nervous buyers or sellers by the hand and lead them through the whole process.

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The internet is a great thing, but it is only a tool to provide information and give more widespread coverage, just like this newspaper property supplement, a ‘For Sale’ board, a window display, an email or the telephone. Marketing tools are vitally important but the process of buying and selling property is still down to people.

Agents’ fees have reduced considerably in the face of increasing competition, which benefits you - the home-owner. But is a low fee the most important factor? Isn’t it about getting value for money? Younger people may be more likely to choose an online agent rather than a full-service one, but in a poll of home-owners the top responses to the question “what do you want from an estate agency?” were right price, knowledge, experience and excellent communication.

Whether online players can gain widespread acceptance remains to be seen. They may appeal to cost-conscious sellers, but in property sales, as with many things in life, it’s very rare that you pay a little and get a lot. I’m reminded of the quote from celebrated fire fighter Red Adair: “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

High Street agents combine the best of online presence, local knowledge and that personal touch, which are essential in securing the best service – and price - for you.

Alastair Woodgate is a director of chartered surveying at estate agency firm Rumball Sedgwick, with offices in Watford and St Albans.

If you are planning on selling your property and want the best possible service, please contact Alastair to see how he can help you on 01727 519140 or visit