CONSIDERING selling your house solely online? Lisa Salmon scopes it out.

Not so long ago, putting your house up for sale meant signing up with a high-street estate agent, often for a hefty fee, or maybe trying to sell it yourself.

Now though, the rise of online estate agents has widened the options for sellers, who can not only choose between high street or online estate agency services, but also consider a wide array of sale packages available within the online offering.

Although the number of online estate agents has grown rapidly in recent years, they still only had a 7.2% share of all exchanges by the end of last year, according to data firm, TwentyCi, which amounted to the sale of around 20,000 properties.

Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark (, which has both online and traditional estate agent members, says: "For most people, their home is their biggest asset, so it's crucial they spend time researching the best estate agency option. We live in a digital age and online estate agents suit some people's lifestyles, but choice is important.

"Sellers want to build a great working relationship with their agent of choice. They must trust their agent will get the best price for them and provide a great service. Fundamentally, it's down to the consumer to make an informed decision based on their circumstances."

Thinking of using an online estate agent to sell your home? Here are nine things to keep in mind...

1. They're usually cheaper

Online agents tend to charge a fixed fee, which can be anything from around £300 to more than £1,500 depending on the package you choose, whereas high street agents usually charge a percentage of the price the house is eventually sold for, typically 1.3-1.5%. So if a house is sold for £300,00, a 1.5% estate agent's commission will be £4,500.

2. Payment in advance

House sellers will often have to pay online estate agent's fees up front, whether they sell their home or not, and Hayward says: "It should be noted that some people are prepared to pay in advance for their estate agency fees in order to achieve a discount." Some online agents do, however, offer the option to pay after the sale's completed but for a higher price, or a deferred payment option at an agreed time in the future - usually after 10-12 months, whether you've sold or not. This may involve taking out a credit agreement.

3. Lack of incentive

Paying a fixed fee before your house is sold could reduce the online agent's incentive to sell your property for the best possible price - although online agents point out that if they didn't secure good sale prices they wouldn't get more business.

4. Marketing

Marketing is similar whether you use a high street or online agent, with your property advertised on sites like Zoopla and Rightmove. A high street agent will advertise in their shop, while an online agent will, of course, publish your property details online. Online agents will usually provide a 'For Sale' board, although there's a chance you might have to erect it yourself.

5. Valuation concerns

An online agent is likely to value your home using online data, rather than local knowledge, although some 'hybrid agencies' - which offer a mix of traditional and online services - may use a 'local property expert' to do valuations. But you don't have to use their valuation, and it can be useful to ask several other estate agents to value your property, and market it at the average valuation you get from them.

6. DIY viewings

Most online agents expect house sellers to conduct viewings themselves. However, some will conduct viewings, so if you need an agent to show people round the property, check package options to find an online agent that offers this service, which might cost more.

7. Negotiating

While some online agents will take offers and negotiate the price for you, others will expect you to communicate with the buyers and their solicitors yourself. So if you don't want to get involved with that side of things, either use an online agent that offers negotiations as part of its service, or use a high street agent. "In a sellers' market online might work better, in a buyers' market, however, the seller requires continual advice in order to negotiate in an informed manner," Hayward points out.

8. Availability

While you won't see much, if anything, of an online agent, their call centres are open during evenings and weekends, so buyers and sellers can contact them outside normal working hours. Some, but not all, high-street agents can be contacted out of hours too. "Online agents are available 24/7, as are some traditional agents, who can also provide a personal human interactive service," adds Hayward.

9. Personal touch

While online agents will usually visit your home to take photographs and create floor plans if that's part of the agreed package, and you may meet the 'local property expert' when your home's valued, all other contact will usually be by email or phone. "Some prefer face-to-face interaction and will therefore choose a high-street agent," says Hayward.