Benefits & disadvantage of using an online estate and letting agent in 2024

Information about OpenRent

From the founding of OpenRent in 2012 to becoming one of the U.K.’s largest letting agent in 2020, OpenRent has had one mission: to make renting fairer, safer, and cheaper for landlords and tenants alike.

OpenRent, like other online agents, helps you from finding a suitable tenant through to creating the tenancy. They can also deal with collecting the rent, gas and electricity certification, inventories, photography and building insurance.

OpenRent claim over 2,702,000 people have used OpenRent to source and let property. They have created over 502,272 tenancies for landlords and tenants in the U.K. Open Rent is a member of multiple other associations.

OpenRent reviews online? 

Reviews for any business are beneficial. Google review for Open Rent is currently 5/10/2020 4.6. Trust pilot review OpenRent scores slightly less at 4.3. Generally, OpenRent scores well when it comes to the reviews on Google review and Trustpilot.

Is OpenRent the best Online Letting Agent?

If you are looking at renting your property with the view to marketing your property online, you must use a good letting agent and consider who you use very carefully. 

Currently, two of the market leaders when renting a property in the U.K. is Upad and OpenRent. They seem to compete with one another closely when it comes to some of the services and fees. You will need to check the finer details to choose an agent that’s best for you.

OpenRent is the U.K.’s largest online rental agency, with impressive 802,000+ registered users and advertising more than 50,000+ properties last year.

List of the popular U.K. online (estate agents) letting agents

The rapid growth of online agents is not purely down to online agents having more business development money compared with traditional high street agents. More people are using online services, generally. 

Selling your property or renting one through a digital-only agent is a positive experience for most people. This is telling when you read the online agents customer reviews from Google or trust Pilot.

The list of the leading online agents for the UK FOR 2020 are:

1.  Yopa

 2.  Visum

 3.  Urban

 4.  Tepilo

 5. Sell My Home

 6. Purplebricks

 7. myonlineestateagent

8. I am The Agent

How are online letting & estate agents able to offer such low fees? 

Most online companies have fewer overheads, a much bigger audience for customers and can cover a larger area from one office, and in doing so can drive down their operating costs. 

What is an online estate agent?

They can help you sell or rent a property without using a high-street agent. They mainly operate by using websites and one central office; they tend to offer a more comprehensive selection of services too than you would receive from a high-street agent.

How do online estate agents work?

Before putting your house up for sale or Rent, an estate agent will need to conduct a valuation. The valuation will provide a guide for the value of the property, rent PCM if you are renting the property.

Unlike your high street agents, an online estate agent will generally not have to visit your house to value it. They will research the local property market to check how much homes in the area have sold for previously, and how other properties in the locality are currently priced. 

Many estate agents, mainly high street agents, will offer no-obligation, in-person valuations for free. This gives you a chance to discuss with the agent the different services they provide and the value of the property. 

Once your property has been valued, your estate agent will prepare an online property advert. This will be used to promote your property for sale or rent on all the leading online property portals.

Do online estate agents overvalue properties?

There is a concern for some homeowners that they could be tricked into agents misleading them over the value of their property. 

Some agents overvalue properties (saying it is worth more, to win business) so they can charge a higher rate of commission. Recent research shows that homeowners who have had their property overvalued end up later reducing the asking prices – but still, pay the higher fees. 

How many people use online estate agents?

Online estate agents in recent research have failed to improve on the market share. An analysis of the property market share of the U.K. online agents shows they are on 4.8%, which has been stagnant, virtually unchanged from its position a year ago.

A consultancy that monitors housing market trends reported that January 31st, 2020, online agents recorded a 4.8% share of the market. The report was based on 90,933 homes coming to market in that fortnight period.

Now compare this to the two-week period before January 31st, 2019, the share was a near-identical 4.58%. That was based on 99,519 homes coming to market in the fortnight.

How do you value what a property is worth? 

It is essential to speak to someone who is knowledgeable and up to date with your local property market—someone who lives in the area and know all the schools, shops, and public transport. 

The following are the basic information you need to obtain:

  • Do houses in that street sell quickly?
  • What price have comparable houses been recently sold for?
  • What is the average selling price of properties in that locality?
  • Does the house have good kerbside appeal?
  • Are the street and the neighbourhood neat and tidy?
  • Does the exterior of the house need work?
  • Is there off-road parking and a garage?

How to go about choosing an online estate agent?

1. Online agents generally do not have offices you can visit and typically charge an up-front fee to advertise a property on the market through various online portals. There can be further charges if a sale does take place. Be aware you may need to deal with some of the selling processes yourself.

An overwhelming majority of sellers still use traditional high estate agents.

2. To start – prepare a list of estate agents

say three online agents you would consider using. All estate agents must belong to an Ombudsman scheme for dealing with unresolved complaints. All good agents by law should be signed up to one of the two schemes to ensure you are dealt with fairly.

Narrow down the choices by:

  • Check their websites. 
  • There is a range of services. 
  • Comments from agents’ customers. 
  • Look at the properties they have a listing for sale or Rent. 
  • Are the properties like yours and presented with high-quality photographs, informative floor plans?
  • Check to ensure the agent advertises properties on at least one major property portal.
  • Check Google review and Trust Pilot reviews.
  • You should be able to narrow down your list from using the above.

Should I use an online estate agent to sell my home?

In recent years Online estate agents have become highly popular at the cheaper end of the property market. Cash-strapped sellers are likely to be enticed by the online agents’ low fees.

Online agents, in some cases, can be cheaper, but they are also a riskier option. If you’re selling a £100,000 home with a traditional estate agent, you might pay a commission of around say 1.4%. However, if the property sells – that’s just under £1,400. With an online agent, you might only pay £799. The risk is, even if the property does not sell, and you will be out of the pocket of £799.

What are the benefits of online estate agents?

  • Online agents generally save landlords and sellers money 
  • Online agents tend to be I.T. geeks and may list your property much faster
  • More control over your property listing
  • Viewings on your terms
  • Online agents afford facility for you to communicate directly with buyers or renters

Can I trust online estate agents? – As a seller, buyer, tenant, or landlord, you need a good idea of just how far you can trust an online estate agent. 

You need to know some of the trick’s agents use to try and boost their business. By understanding the tricks, you are likely to benefit from their expertise – without becoming the victim.

Estate agents do the job every day; however, most people move home a few times in their entire life. 

You need to be prepared, so you don’t come across as just another easy target for the estate agent. 

The disadvantage of using an online agent

Disadvantages of using an online agent are worth considering well as the advantages, for some sellers or landlords online agents may not serve them well. So what are the disadvantages of using an online agent:

  • They do not have the knowledge of the local area as well as your high street local agent.
  • They cannot deliver the personal touch that in some cases, is vital for renters or buyers.
  • They tend to have better negotiation skill and willingness, then online agents. It is for this reason properties over £200,000 sellers tend to use local agents as opposed to online estate agents.

Are online estate agents worth it?

Letting agents can save you time and a headache of letting; however, it does depend on which online letting or estate agent you use. Check the online agents we have listed (above) on this blog.

Will the photos used by online estate agents be good quality?

Yes, most online estate agents and letting agents should offer this service free of charge, which is part of the package.

Some agents may even offer professional photography options too. The professional photography option that agents offer may attract an additional fee, check before signing any contracts.  

Will the online agent negotiate a good deal with my buyers?

Estate agents use competitive strategies to exaggerate upward property prices. They use tactics like sealed bids, encouraged house hunters to offer as much as they can afford, irrespective of the property’s true value. 

Some agents arrange open days in which possible buyers are herded around at the same time. This creates a sense of demand for the particular property, to drive up the price.

You can invite at least three agents to visit your property and get them to provide a quotation to sell your property. Put them under pressure to give you a good deal to win your business.  

Can landlords use landlords associations to let a property?

Letting agents offer a good professional service, which can reduce stress and save time, leaving landlords to concentrate best on their carer and family life. However, that said, due to recent financial challenges, more and more private landlords are using landlords’ associations to let property. Although landlord association do not market the property, however, they do provide all the support including documents, credit checks, inventory, and free legal advice.

Landlords are resorting to advertising lettings through online property portals and managing their property portfolio themselves saving money.

What is indemnity insurance when selling a house?

Indemnity insurance is a protection policy in some cases used during housing transactions. For a one-off fee, you get a policy that covers the cost implications of a third party claiming in the future any defects with the property.

In other words, an indemnity insurance policy protects you the seller or in some cases, a buyer from a potential problem with a property that could cost you money in the future. 

Source: The British Landlords Association (The BLA)

Author: Simon Hampton

[email protected]

The British Landlords Association is a free national landlords association, why to join us today for free!

Date: 5th of October 2020


This post is for general use only and is not intended to offer legal, tax, or investment advice; it may be out of date, incorrect, or maybe a guest post. You are required to seek legal advice from a solicitor before acting on anything written hereinabove.

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