The key differences between high street agents and online agents

Published: 04/03/2019

One of the biggest property market debates – other than Brexit – is online estate agents versus high street agents.

There has been a significant rise in the number of online and hybrid firms in recent years. In fact, a study from TwentyCi revealed that online agents had a 7.2% share of the market in 2018.

If you’re a seller considering using an online agency for the perceived lower costs and upfront fees, you will want to weigh up your options first.

Despite the growth of the online model, high street agents were responsible for around 260,000 transactions in Q4 2018 compared to around 20,000 handled by online agents, according to statista.

As an independent estate agency operating in South East London, we can affirm the advantages of using a traditional firm over an online one. In order to help you to make an informed decision, we’ve listed some of the key points below...

Fees and costs

For many sellers, the appeal of perceived lower costs when using an online agent is very high, but everything might not be as it seems.

Typically, online estate agents offer prospective sellers a one-off fixed fee without commission, but you will have to pay whether your home sells or not. The cost is usually upfront, meaning that online agents have very little incentive to push through a sale quickly once you pay the fee.

You will also need to be aware of additional costs with online agents, such as viewings, premium listings, photography, portal listings, floor plans and for sale boards.

High street agents, on the other hand, will generally charge a small percentage of the sale price – a fee which covers all of the above services. You will also be working with an experienced agent who will aim to get the best possible price and push the transaction through quickly. This is because they only get paid once the sale is complete.

Another major difference between traditional firms and their online counterparts is the level of service you will receive.

With sellers placing a high importance on the level of service offered, a high street agent will work towards building a rapport with you on a personal level, ensuring that their services are tailored to your needs.

And, while it’s true that an online agent can sometimes offer a 24/7 service, you’re likely to be liaising with a faceless agent rather than someone who knows your situation closely.

What’s more, online agents generally leave sellers to deal with negotiations, while a traditional agent will manage the offer process and stay in touch throughout the transaction – effectively reducing stress for the seller.

Lastly, if you opt out of paying additional fees for viewings with an online agent, you will need to conduct them yourself, which some sellers may find daunting. At Bryan & Keegan, though, we’ve got you covered. Visit our Selling page to find out more.


One of the arguments put forward by online agencies is the forward-thinking way that they market your property, underlined by the notion that the internet is the only place to showcase your home.

However, many prospective buyers still view properties that are featured in the agent’s office windows.

All estate agents are ‘online agents’, with the vast majority having their own online presence in the form of a company website. Plus, the majority of traditional agents will feature their properties online via property portals.

Here at Bryan & Keegan, as well as on our website, we list our properties on all three major portals (Rightmove, OnTheMarket and Zoopla). In essence, the reach of a traditional agent is significantly wider than online agents, as we have more angles covered.


As you know, we deal with property in South East London and since opening our doors in 2013, we have formed an excellent reputation within the local community. This means that we are well-informed on current property trends in the local area.

Compare this knowledge to that of a national online agent, and the difference is quite striking. It’s important to note that these agents make decisions (such as valuations) based on online data. This could lead to you, the seller, marketing the property with an unsuitable asking price.

Even online agents with ‘local property experts’ still aren’t local enough to know your area and your road to value it accurately, and will lack the local expertise that a traditional agent has.

Of course, there are some pros to the online model, but sellers will need to be aware of the risks associated with selling their home this way and will need to avoid getting drawn in by the low fees and upfront costs.

As a successful agency that combines traditional and modern methods, Bryan & Keegan can assist you with your sale. With us, you only pay commission on the successful conclusion of your sale.

Hopefully, we have helped you to understand the benefits of selling with us, but if not, we have offices in Brockley, Hither Green and Park Lane if you want to get in touch.  

Additionally, if you want an idea of how much your home could be worth on the current market, we offer instant online valuations.