The high-end sector of the estate agency market has so far been quiet on the subject of online versus the high street.
No doubt that is because they feel largely unthreatened.
They presumably feel fairly safe that their sellers – almost by definition – do not baulk at their fees, want the highest possible price, often want a confidential service, and perhaps appreciate the added value of a prestigious agency ‘name’ handling the transaction.
However, there is no doubt that people with £1m-plus homes to sell do try to save money by listing with an online agent and there have been several examples.
Now, out of the traps steps Trevor Abrahmsohn, CEO of London’s Glentree, which specialises in some of the world’s most expensive properties, in north London.
He says the idea of paying a fraction of an average estate agent’s fee upfront “in the vain expectation of selling your property at the highest possible price is fatally flawed”.
Why? Because he argues that once an online agent has listed the property, the vendor is “on your own, mate”.
He goes on: “The Great British Public are instinctively reserved and would rather ‘run naked through the streets’ than they would negotiate the sale of their own home.”
He also queries whether potential buyers do not have ulterior motives. “They could of course be ‘casing the joint’ or even have more sinister intentions, but they will certainly not be accompanied by an agent for your protection.
“In some cases ‘bottom feeders’ specifically target online agency sellers in order to try and ‘steal a bargain’ which they then sell back to the market for a substantial gain.
“As a doctor ‘would not deliver his own baby’, how could you expect an unsuspecting home owner to do the work of a highly trained estate agent?
“On the face of it, the allure of gaining a discount of 80% from conventional agents’ fees is to some irresistible, but if you under-sell by many tens of thousands of pounds, this could be the most expensive mistake you ever make.”