Online estate agents impact on probate property sale

The use of online estate agents is growing. The likes of YOPA, Tepilo and eMoov are becoming increasingly popular in offering an alternative platform for sellers to market their property and potentially increase the speed of a sale. As new agents, such as Purplebricks are predicted to take up to 10% of market share, the rise of online property sale will naturally include a portion which is inherited.

Due to the often neglected nature of probate property, prices are likely to be competitive. Paired with a need for renovation, inherited property on the market is likely to appeal to prospective landlords searching online with the intention of updating the property and renting it out.

Compared to traditional high street agents, online agents potentially offer favourable advantages when it comes to selling a property, particularly for those being sold as part of probate. One of the main attractions of online estate agents is the savings available. This is especially the case for more expensive properties, as high street agents charge a percentage of the sale price meaning the more a house is worth, the higher the fee. For agents on the high street, commission may reach beyond £10,000 in some London areas, whereas even for the most expensive online agents, expenses will rarely reach over £1,000. Those who are in the process of selling the property of the deceased will usually have had to contend with funeral expenses as well as large probate bills, so any way of making a saving is likely to be appealing.

Similarly, given the stressful nature of selling inherited property, many will want the process to be completed as quickly as possible. The longer a house remains unsold, the greater the bills for council tax, insurance and heating are likely to be – ultimately a constant drain on expenses that a sale would put an end to. Whereas high street agents often attract potential buyers wandering past their display window, online agents are able to promote a property across a range of media channels, which serious buyers are likely to continually monitor. Although agents based on the high street are likely to be utilising social media marketing, the fact that online agents are based solely on the internet is likely to mean their promotional methods are to be more fine-tuned and tailored to a more specific audience.

The online nature of these agents will also mean greater availability for engagement with clients. Where high street agent opening times are typically limited to regular working hours, the likes of Zoopla and Rightmove are available on a much more flexible basis. In regards to selling probate property, individuals may have a limited timescale especially when working full time, thus opting for an agent with longer and more varied contact hours may be a more favourable choice.

Although seemingly more convenient and financially friendly, the use of an online agent may be more time consuming for probate property sellers later down the line.

Where viewings of the property are concerned, the majority of online based agents will require the seller to show the potential buyer around. Although this may not prove a problem for those who have more flexible hours of availability, it may be a significant hindrance for those who face more rigid schedules. High street agent viewings are conducted by an experienced and knowledgeable agent which may be preferable where price negotiation as well as professional service levels are concerned.

Although most probate sellers are looking to dispose of the property as quickly as possible, many may spend more time to consider their choices. One option which may be initially time consuming, but produce lucrative long term benefits, would be the renovation of the property prior to sale.

Although additional issues relating to outdated central heating and insulation may need to be considered, the added profit to be made from the changes is likely to outweigh any initial costs.

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