Which? said that while it was true that online agents charge “competitive fees for their service”, it was important that buyers were clear about exactly what they would get for that money.
For example, it highlighted that extras, such as the agent conducting viewings, would incur additional fees, while fees may need to be paid upfront rather than when the property is sold.
Which? said: “There isn’t a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to whether you should use an online estate agent. If you think you know the local property market well and would be comfortable showing buyers around your home, using an online estate agent could present good value. However, if you’re stretched for time or would prefer more tailored support and advice, you may be better off using a high street agent.”
The consumer champion noted the high number of times online agents have been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over the past year for misleading claims made on their websites or in marketing materials.
These included three separate occasions when the ASA has upheld complaints against both HouseSimple and Purplebricks in the last year and a half, with other claims upheld against the likes of Hatched and eMoov in recent years.
Indeed, just this week HouseSimple has ‘informally resolved’ complaints made against certain wording on its site regarding the supposed improved chances of selling your home through the site, as well as the likely selling price achieved.