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Sellers advised: Never use online agents as they may under-sell your home

One of London’s leading estate agents is advising sellers to consider giving the negotiator who sells their property a bonus, and never for any reason use an online company.

Trevor Abrahmsohn - managing director of high-end London agency Glentree International and one of the founders of OnTheMarket - gives 10 pieces of advice to sellers as to how to maximise the price they get and optimise the time taken to find a buyer in a slow market such as today’s.

Many of these are familiar and consumer-facing - get the guide price right, declutter, never accompany the agent and buyer on a viewing, and so on - but one of particular interest to the industry is Abrahmsohn’s outspoken comments about online agents. 


One of his pieces of advice is entitled, simply, “Don’t Use An Online Agent.”

It reads: “They will cost you money and you may still need a conventional agent as well to do the job which will cost you double the fees. An online agent may well undersell the property by an unacceptable margin. Pay your conventional agents the full fee and even give a bonus to the successful negotiator who sells the property. This means you will get the best from them and, one hopes, the highest price at the end of the process.”

Perhaps less predictable is another Abrahmsohn’s top 10 pieces of advice for sellers - that is, to ensure they meet their buyer face-to-face.

“Before a deal is struck, always insist on meeting the prospective purchaser in person since you get a far better idea of their sincerity when you ‘look them in the eye’” says the agent.  

“If you are just reliant on a name passed to you by an agent, you are clueless as to the full picture of the purchaser’s background. At a meeting to agree terms, make sure the agent ‘spells out’ the deal that you think you have agreed and, when everyone is happy, shake hands” he adds.  

“Everyone should know that a hand shake is the sealing of a  ‘moral contract’ in advance of a formal exchange and is subject only to getting a mortgage and having a structural survey. Let all the parties agree that gazundering and gazumping are ‘forboden’.”

His other advice includes using OnTheMarket’s ‘early bird’ marketing system, having photographs taken when the garden is at its best, and ensuring the property is super-clean throughout - specifically on the latter point, Abrahmsohn suggests scented candles could be a good idea “as long as they do not smell like toilet deodorisers.”

  • icon

    Breaking news?! A high street agent advises that clients shouldn’t use online agents - crikey, that’s a first

  • Property Road

    The problem is, most estate agents don't know HOW to 'sell' a property.

    Pay them what you want but if they still go around purely pointing out features rather than selling properties based on the benefits to potential buyers, you'll get the same results.

    And if you're getting the same results, you may as well use an online agent and conduct the viewings yourself!


    This is getting boring guys.
    Online is here to stay.
    They are cheap now but costs will rise.
    High Street guys get your act together.
    Promote yourself and get Qualified through Propertymark.
    You must change with the times.

  • Paul Singleton

    Only it you don't want viewing feedback, you want poor photography, zero on going advice and want to sales progress it yourself.

    Property Road

    Not sure if you're describing high street estate agents or online ones!!!

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    On a serious note, PurpleBricks do not have the manpower to do anything more than take a property on, they then rely on peoples own motivation to pursue a property and DIY,,, in this market that just doesn't work, that is why we are seeing enquiries from people who have only been on with on-line agents for a matter of weeks before coming back to the high street.


    So you have sold a property through them then? Very clearly not. I highly expect, online agents see exactly the same thing. Sometimes a property sells quickly, sometimes not. This could be any number of reasons, the agent, the seller or the property.

  • icon

    An observation: If you use an online agent then it's highly likely you will meet the eventual buyer beforehand, because you will be err......conducting the viewings, yes?

    Property Road

    Not necessarily, many online agents are now offering hosted viewings as an optional extra.


    As 'property road' said, online agents offer a whole range of options, i.e. more choice and flexibility.

  • icon

    I sold my property though PB. I was very unsure about giving online a try, but thought I'd give it a shot. The agent rep was amazing, communication 7 days a week where needed, all offers received live via message, as they are done through PB's system. I had the opportunity to review various offers, and reject with comments direct to the interested party where necessary. I chose for hosted viewings and wanted most on an open day. After this experience, I'm 100% sold on online agents, and when time comes to sell again, will most certainly use one.

    Traditional agents needs to stop complaining about competition, and instead like many of the corporate, consider more flexibility in the options they offer. It is then, and only then they will be on a level, if not even stronger platform.

    Property Road

    The reason online estate agents are growing in popularity is because they are giving customers what they want. Are they perfect? No. Are high street agents perfect? No. Yet, online estate agents are clearly doing something right.

    We've seen the same thing with Uber and the taxi industry. Rather than actually look at WHY the digital newcomer is gaining so much traction and then trying to adapt their service to compete, the old-timers just point fingers and refuse to accept the game is changing.

    Simon Shinerock

    I once went to a casino and put ten pounds on the red at roulette, as a result I think red is great, much better than black and if I ever go to the casino again I will definitely bet on red. I think banks should stop offering such low interest rates to their customers and start copying the casino model with its much higher returns. BTW, I don’t think your post has the ring of truth anyway, please supply evidence and we will be happy to publish a verified version of your story along side the other side of the argument


    Hi Simon, Firstly I'll say, I have no idea what your knowledge is on PB, but it sounds quite clear from your comment, you have a very limited understand on how they work from an actual customer perspective. Something worth looking into yourself, especially as you question the truth of my truth, then perhaps discovering the end to end PB process from a customer perspective, will enlighten your knowledge and opinion on my personal experience with them. I can perhaps look forward to an article from you on your findings?! I expect reading with a small grin.

    Separately, your casino perspective is what marketing and service is all about. Provide a good experience and service, the customer will think of you first when needing that service again. The problem is, most agents from my experience do not.

  • icon

    Hate to say it but the industry IS changing, remember the days when the only place to advertise a property was in the local rag?
    Consumers will be driven by price and hate to admit it there's an awful lot of purple boards out there , we have to adapt to the changing market

  • icon

    I work for a corporate agent not far from Wimbledon. We have sold over 40 properties since 1st Jan with an average fee of 1.65% (circa £10,000). We have sold more than double the second agent in our area - PB have sold about three and we have been instructed on several PB properties as they just don’t have any effect on the London market.

    They cannot keep up with the demands of the London vendor/buyer nor the appetite of agents like myself.

    Times are changing but only if you let them - keep on top of everything and give top customer service and PB and the equivalents won’t even get a look in

  • Andrew Hill

    We could say the same about some high street agents... Nicholas Humphreys Burton on Trent branch isn't even registered with a property redress scheme let alone underselling... High Street Branches have it in their interests to undersell to keep numbers up. For us online agents, we can invest more time (and money) into nurturing our client relationships and marketing their properties achieving the best prices because of our lower overheads.

    From what our clients tell us, the extortionate high street agency model is dead.

  • Paul Singleton

    We are taking more and more properties off PB. The story is always the same, over promise and under deliver. Despite what they say there is Zero incentive to sell your home, the ‘sale’ for them is merely getting your signature, once they’ve got that, ‘job done’, and the money is theirs. To do a proper job you have to be proactive not rely on viewers ‘perhaps’ putting some feedback on the website, ringing up ‘registered applicants’ and encouraging them to view, changing advertising around, doing new photographs if the weathers better, meeting up with you vendors for a review meeting, and when it’s sold ‘sales progressing’ it through to completion. If anyone’s reading this that works for PB you may not know what I’m talking about but all the decent agents out there do!


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