Internet based Estate Agents are starting to challenge the traditional ways in which we sell our homes. Is using an Internet only estate agent to sell your house a sensible choice? We review House Network to find out.
House Network is a qualified estate agent, even though it doesn't have the high street offices of the traditional agencies. It employs a small number of regional agents who visit properties and prepare the sales details according to legal requirements. Although it only operates on the Internet, House Network is a bona fide estate agent, unlike some other property websites which merely publish classified adverts.
Being an estate agent brings a massive benefit to House Network – the ability to advertise its stock of houses on RightMove. As most buyers use RightMove when looking to buy a property, this gives the sellers using House Network access to almost the same markets as traditional estate agents. Indeed one suspects that without RightMove, House Network would not have a viable business.
So why would someone trying to sell their house consider House Network instead of a traditional estate agent? In a word, it is cost.
The costs of selling your home with House Network
As House Network is not renting expensive high street offices and paying for the expensive advertising in local newspapers, their charges are far lower than a locally based estate agent. The savings can be huge.
Although some traditional estate agents will only charge 0.5% plus VAT, most will charge you one percent or more, of the sales price, plus VAT. On a £300,000 home, this would cost £3,525.
House Network charges only a £395 plus VAT upfront fee to list the house on its web site and other portals such as Rightmove. There is no completion fee to pay with this price plan, although they have two other plans in which you pay lower up front fees, but then pay a completion fee once the house sale is successfully transacted (£295 + £295 or £195 upfront + £595 completion fee – all prices exclusive of VAT). So the sale of a £300,000 house would only cost a total of £424.63 – a saving of £3100.37!
As House Network charges fixed fees, irrespective of the sale price of your house, even a million pound house would only cost £424.63 to sell via the House Network. You read that correctly – the savings in estate agents fee can be huge.
What you get with House Network
When you sign up with the House Network website, you pay the £199 + VAT fee and then supply some brief details about your home. These will form the basis of your property description, although they have to be approved by their estate agents. You can also order a reasonably priced Home Information Pack at the same time.
You will soon be contacted by The House Network to arrange a visit from their regional agent and an energy assessor, if you have ordered a HIP through them.
The agent will spend a considerable time measuring your house, taking extensive photos, and preparing floor plans. He will also create three or four virtual tours of your house and supply optional extras such as 3d plans, if you have ordered these items. You will find this visit to be very thorough.
Within about 24 hours, the agent will have uploaded all your house details to the House Network website and provided you with an administrative area on their site so that you can view, or change, your details, particularly the photos that will be displayed in your property details.
You will also be sent a comprehensive HomeTrak property report that will help you decide on the best price to market your property.
House Network staff are available both by phone and Internet based chat to answer your questions and resolve problems or changes that you may have before your marketing goes live. You control the point at which your property starts to be marketed and displayed on portals such as RightMove and PropertyFinder.com.
Should a prospective buyer want to view your house, they will contact the House Network, who will then liaise with you to arrange a mutually convenient time for the viewing. An important point to note is that you show the prospective buyer around your property. House Network merely make appointments on your behalf and leaves the selling of the property to you.
What you do not get with House Network
For a minimal cost, you can actually receive many benefits from using House Network to sell your house, however there are some disadvantages that may out-weigh the costs saving, depending on your circumstances:
- House Network is not a local estate agent and therefore does not have good knowledge about the property market in your area.
- House Network does not perform the viewings so you have to be available, and willing, to show people around your home. This could be daunting, or difficult for many sellers.
- Your property will not be advertised in your local newspapers, which still attract attention, although property portals on the Internet are the main source of research for buyers.
- House Network does not hold a list of buyers who may have seen another property and might be interested in your house.
- The House Network will not mail out your details to a mailing list of registered buyers or pro-actively phone people who might be interested in your house.
Advantages and disadvantages
So as we have seen, there are some disadvantages to using House Network to market your house. Whether these are sufficient to persuade you that a traditional estate agent should sell your home, will depend on your personal circumstances.
Should you decide, however, that you will probably sell your house through RightMove anyway, and you don't mind showing prospective buyers around, then you will be rewarded with saving large estate agents fees, running into thousands of pounds.
In future article we will assess how successful House Network is in selling a house.
Updated: 23rd February 2010: We are pleased to report that House Network has now sold over 3000 properties in the six years of it’s operation.