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Buying agency talks down DIY sales, talks up 'Big Two' portals

Stacks Property Search, one of Britain’s largest buying agencies, has entered the debates over portals and the use of DIY house sale websites and online estate agents.

Stacks spokesman David Brooke-Smith says with estate agents charging between 1.0 per cent and 2.5 per cent of the selling price of a property, plus marketing costs and plus VAT, “it’s no great surprise that people are tempted to do the job themselves” via DIY sales websites. 

But he warns that sellers who try to do it all themselves on a free or nearly-free to use website may be mistaken - and that the true skills of good estate agents are often under-estimated.


“If you are in a position to know the true ‘value’ of your property, if you know how to present it at its best, if you have a significant level of IT and search engine optimisation, if you have strong negotiating and diplomatic skills, if you have endless patience, and if you’re prepared to put in full time effort and place your life on hold for several months, you may stand a chance” he explains.

He says that his buying agency has seen sellers go down the DIY route only to find it’s simply not working and revert to more traditional methods. 

For sellers who wish to avoid the traditional high street agent, he says “the greatest chance of success comes from using an online agent that offers help with photography, floor plans, and crucially, listing on the main portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla.”

However, here too he has a warning - that vendors may find it difficult to objectively promote their property on viewings, and will probably be inexperienced at negotiating.

“The problem with this journey, apart from not achieving a sale, is that you will have incurred substantial non-refundable expenses. Selling online requires upfront fees, so if you revert to selling through a [traditional] agent, you will be duplicating a fair proportion of the cost” he says. 

  • icon

    Nice to see the other side of the coin being praised. Well said Mr Brooke-Smith

  • Jon  Tarrey

    "and that the true skills of good estate agents are often under-estimated."

    Not by people in the industry. They're positively over-estimated, which is why so many agents get so defensive against any criticism.

  • Kelly Evans

    Aren't you supposed to be retired? Can't you go and play golf or move to Spain so we don't have to listen to your ill-informed rants against the industry? It's tiresome.

    Anyway, fully agree with Mr Brooke-Smith. People soon find that going it alone or going through an online agent turns out to be a disaster. Back they come, looking sheepish, asking for those with actual knowledge and experience of the sector to help them out.

    If selling a house was really that easy, estate agents wouldn't exist. Truth is, it's a lot harder than it looks and those who go down the DIY route soon find that out the hard way.

  • Emma  Mitchell

    Some great points made by Mr Brooke-Smith. Customers benefit from online agents primarily because they are able to have a sense of control over the selling of their property, which is only right.

    Sellers can decide whether they want to have photos taken or can do it themselves, etc etc. It's this freedom of choice which is attracting sellers to an increasingly popular industry, as well as the much lower fees.

  • Neil Briggs

    Yes, Kelly, the whole point of estate agents existing is to make the sales process as easy as possible for the seller, by using local knowledge and market expertise. As you say, if there wasn't a demand for estate agents, we wouldn't still all be around. But there is a demand, and that demand is only going up, so some of us must be doing something right.

    People have the right to go for the DIY approach, but more often than not they realise how much work is involved and how much stress and hassle they will face.


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