We were a bit nervous about using an online agent, but the saving was so great compared to our local agents that in the end we decided we had to give it a try. We looked at a number of options and in the end we chose HouseHop.co.uk - partly because they seemed to offer the best overall package, but also because a colleague of mine sold her house through them last year and said she had a really good experience.
Once we instructed them House Hop moved really quickly and three days later they had sent an agent out to us to take photos and do floorplans and our listing was ready to go out on Rightmove as well as all the other big property websites.
We had a couple of viewings the first weekend and then a stready stream, including a couple of offers, over the next month and a bit. House Hop did the negotiations for us and in less than two months we accepted a great offer. The team were fantastic and kept us up to date with what was happening all the way through until completion - far better than the local agents we sold with last time. And in total, we saved almost £5,500! If we ever decide to sell again in the future we will definitely be using House Hop and I've already been recommending them to family and friends.
We chose to use Hatched to sell our house a few months ago. We chose them because the other online agents charge up front only, whereas Hatched charge at the end as well as up front, so we thought there was more incentive for them to sell our house. Which they did.
We sold within 8 weeks and have just moved house! Although we did agree a sale in October - I think that was quite a long time to wait, but I don't think this was anything to do with Hatched
Overall, you can't beat it. They sold our house for the price that high street agents had valued it at. And they saved us over £4,000! All we had to do was the viewings. But I don't think this is unusual - We bought a house after selling ours and out of 14 or so houses we viewed, agents only showed us round 3 of them!
The prices we were being offered by estate agents on the high street to put our house on the market were ridiculous, so my partner and I decided to look further afield. We came across emoov.co.uk and immediately spotted their price plans; £349 to put our house on the market! We contacted them and spoke to someone who was extremely helpful, they put all our doubts at ease. Our house was on the market within days of contacting emoov and we had viewings after a week, some of the people who viewed the house commented on the wonderful photographs of our property and said they really helped it stand out from the rest, again, thanks to emoov. We eventually sold our property for the asking price after a month. I would recommend this site to anyone I know and Implore anyone who hasn't viewed this site to consider checking it out before going any where else.
We decided to sell online and wanted to find a site that would list on all the major property portals (Rightmove, findaproperty, Zoopla, Primelocation, etc).
We shortlisted a number of sites and ended up choosing www.househop.co.uk
This was because as well as a very competitive price (£397) on close inspection it offered a better package than any of the competitors. For the £397 fee (with no commission) you also get a For Sale board, floorplans, virtual tour and a free EPC.
What we found was that most other online estate agents charged extra for some (or all !!!) of these services, meaning that with househop we ended up saving about £150 compared to the other online agents we looked at.
Customer service was great - they got an agent out to us within a couple of days and we were on Rightmove a day later!
They were very quick to arrange viewings and even got involved with the negotiations for us. Overall we were very happy - highly recommend.
We had several local estate agents round to value our house and they all said they got their enquiries from the internet like Rightmove.So we searched for agents that could get our house on the big property websites but without the big fee and cam across eMoov.co.ukWe paid upfront which we were initially a bit sceptical about but were soon reassured when they visited a couple of days later to take photos and measurements and to do the EPC.We were on Rightmove and all the other websites within a few days and had viewers straigh away. We sold the house for good money in a couple fo weeks and have now moved.We saved about £3 grand.Definitely recommend.
I've just used www.Uchooselettings.co.uk to list my property on rightmove, findaproperty, primelocation etc. They are an high street agent that's offering a fantastic online service. As yet, I haven't had any tenant enquires but hopefully will soon as I've just seen my property on rightmove. I entered my property on their site this afternoon. My normaly agent normally charge's me 50% of a months rent to find a tenant and usually I have to decorate when they've left. This gives me the chance to choose my own tenant. The website is www.uchooselettings.co.uk if anybody wants to check them out.
I used Online Property Uk to let my property in Exeter, they were running a free listing offer, and i believe they still are (March2011) and their service was excellent, they are a very keen company and called me back when they said they would and their service was unbelievable even though my listing was free. I dealt with them throughout the letting process from start to finish, and my new tenant is now in and at the end of the day, i paid nothing, they don't take any monthly commission or any other fee's this actually was a free offer and not a con like some can be, i would have no problem recommending them to my friends and family for lettings and sales. Usually their rental fee is £149 which i still believe is unbeatable value and i would have been more than happy to pay twice as much as that if they hadn't had the offer on looking back in hindsight, when my current contacts come up i will be using them again. To get to their website its www.onlinepropertyuk.com
DON'T BOTHER WITH HATCHED!!! We used them to market our property earlier in the year, you have three levels of payment, nothing up front then 1% of the sale price, £99 up front then 0.5% of the sale price of £199 and then a further £199 if you sell (which is highly unlikely) we stupidly took the third option and it seemed it wasn't really worth them putting in any effort at all as they would only get another £199 if it did sell, so it was an easy few hundred pounds for them to basically come round and take a few rubbish pictures of our property. We had no viewings at all for 3 months so we decided to go with a traditional agent and sold within a week! It goes to show you get what you pay for...
We went through the Bansal Agency in Coventry, UK and they were beyond horrible. They were terrible at organization, lost contracts, forget to get signatures, took months to take a proper inventory, never once responded when something needed doing with the house (we had to go to the landlord personally), we emailed them on numerous occasions asking questions and they never once got back to us. I could rant on for ages about how horrible they were, but just take it from me, DON'T EVER EVER USE BANSAL AGENTS. They are now trying to with-hold our deposits, even after we left the house in better shape than when we moved in. They are the WORST agents any of us have ever dealt with and we would not recommend them to our worst enemies. I am only giving one star because i cant post with none.
We used an online estate agent called Hatched.co.uk to sell our house. We were a little hesitant to start with because when something seems too good to be true, it normally is! However, this was a brilliant service at a fair price of less than £500! One of the key things, we felt, was to get on Rightmove as this is where all the buyers went to find houses. We thought about trying to sell privately, but you don't get on Rightmove with private sites. So that was really important for us. We ended up coming across Hatched and decided to go for it! And i'm glad we did...They did everything I expected of an estate agent - the took the photos, some floorplans and did details, they made the viewings and negotiated for me. We put it on the market in September 2009 and had 6 viewings. After 3 weeks, we had an offer which we ended up accepting. We've just moved to a lovely detached house! We got the price that other high street estate agents valued it at, so i'm pretty sure we got the right price for our house. Basically, a great service that i will definitely use again when i have to sell...
Ever thought of buying property abroad? This could be as an investment, a holiday home or even part of your retirement plans! In my case it was a combination of the last two points and the dream my partner and myself had was to be able to buy a house in France.
Well you know how sometimes you can start to make one set of plans only to find they start to alter beyond your control? A house in France was a great idea, we had pictures of our dream houses on the walls in the kitchen - a sort of goal or reminder of what we were hoping for. Then out of the blue, my other half said 'I think we should buy a house in Slovakia'. Fine, that's near France isn't it? OK let's see what we can find on the internet.
The first thing that I found was that it's nowhere near France! It was a place I had heard of but knew nothing about but actually it is situated in the very heart of Europe, right next door to Austria. I'd been to Vienna and liked it a lot and when I found that the Slovakian capital is only about 40 miles from Vienna it started to sound less like I would be travelling anywhere where the maps said 'here be dragons'.
Thank goodness for the internet, without it, none of this could have happened. I now know about 100 words in Slovak, some of them are rude, some really are unpronounceable and some just make people laugh at you when you try to say them but when we first started to look I knew nothing about the language. Finding some websites in English therefore was a blessing. Most websites want you to invest in new properties, usually in the capital or in the skiing areas where a lot of new chalet and apartment type properties are being built. I made a few enquiries with some of these sites just to find out what kind of practicalities are involved in buying in a country I knew so little about. Even though I now do have a house, these sites still email me and phone me up, not exactly hassling me but ultimately trying to get some business out of me. I can now spot the kind of companies which operate like this and I would certainly not do business with them if ever I was in a similar position again.
In the end there was only one website that stood out as being any good. There may be others as things constantly change but the one that we used is www.slovakhouses.com.
The real reason that we picked this site was that it had a lot of properties and many of these were cheap. Taking a quick look today in Nov 2009 I can find a house for 7,400 Euros which at today's exchange rate is £6,619.18. I don't think it sounds very good though but you can certainly still pick up a property for peanuts.
We narrowed down our search to 5 properties that we decided we wanted to view. We contacted the agents who also had a rep in the UK. We said when we wanted to go and that we would arrange our flights and accommodation in the areas we wanted to visit and waited for the reply. Well they were pretty quick at getting back to me, but the agent in the UK was and I assume still is pretty useless. I got the impression that the company thought it would be a good idea to have a rep in this country but nobody before me had ever got in touch with him. I don't know if this is true but I think I'm not far off the mark.
I need to interrupt the story at this point with a useful bit of hindsight. I hope that no Slovaks take offence at this but I will tell it as I see it. Outside of Bratislava the capital, with obviously some exceptions, Slovak enterprise does not really seem to have joined the 21st century. Things take time to happen and you can't rush a Slovak until you get to know them. By our hectic UK standards it can often seem as though you are banging your head against the wall. This is not a sign that things are going wrong, you just need to relax your expectations a little.
So, having informed the estate agent which properties we wanted to see and made our travel arrangements I had an email saying that 5 properties was an awful lot to want to see, would we not just want to see 1? This surprised me but again with hindsight I believe the Slovaks are genuinely surprised at the way the Brits like to do things. Why look at 5 houses when you only want to buy 1? After some arguing we persuaded them that we did want to see all of them. Everything was settled.
Two days before we flew we had an email to say the estate agent had gone into hospital with an early labour and would not be able to show us any properties....
Fine, did they realize how much money we had spent on our travel plans? Did they know we had arranged time off work etc. etc.? Surely there was someone else who could show us round?
So 1 day before we travelled the agents husband let me know he could show us round but he'd only be able to show us one property.
Now some of you may start to smell a rat by now but I was working off a combination of hope, fear and my gut instinct and we went and agreed to play by their rules.
We had always planned to turn the trip into a sight-seeing tour as well as a property hunt. We had a wonderful time seeing parts of a country that was becoming more and more appealing to us. We had no regrets at all. We did however look for other estate agents while we were there in some of the other towns we went through and decided that we just did not know how to say 'do you have any properties that would be suitable for a holiday home that may need some attention?' in Slovak. Yes the language barrier was HUGE. There were not many conversations to be had in English during our visit.
The day arrived when we would meet Julian the estate agents husband. We had exchanged mobile numbers via email and agreed to phone him when we got to the town where they were based. I phoned him, he told me to wait by a petrol station and 5 minutes later he turned up. He spoke some English, apologised for the way things had turned out and told us his wife had just had a baby girl.
He said the plans were to go and see the property which was owned by 3 brothers. We had to pick one of the brothers up along the way as he had the keys. Oh and by the way, none of the brothers get on with each other and they don't talk to each other. OK. We followed in our car and drove to a very small village where brother number 1 got into Julian's car. Off we went again to see the house.
Fate certainly does help you when things are not meant to be. We saw the house, it was really a farm that hadn't been worked for at least a decade. There were 3 outbuildings, rotting machinery, views to die for and a price tag of £38,000. This is quite expensive for a Slovak property but it did include about 30 acres of land.
It was not however our dream property. The fact that we were travelling home in two days time and had not seen any other properties made us do a very silly thing however, we said we would have it.
Brother number 1 rang brother number 2, they could just about be civil to each other, but brother number 2 had to ring brother number 3 because 1 and 3 could not even have a phone conversation. They all had to agree to sell (which I would have thought was the whole point of putting it on the market in the first place). Suddenly there was another buyer in the picture who had offered more money, but they liked us better and would really like us to offer a bit more. I kid you not, I am making none of this up. Julian was becoming very embarrassed because we just stood there and let them all argue between them.
Of course we didn't know if this was how they did business over there or not. I now know that this is not normal and of course the 3 brothers were trying to con us.
An hour or so later Julian spoke to his wife in the hospital for a while on the phone. He then took us to one side and said another house had come on the market that day, he hadn't even been to see it himself but they had agreed that we could see it if we wanted but that we wouldn't be able to go inside as they didn't have any keys yet. Did we want to go? Yes! If only to get away from these mad people. Of course he had to drop off brother number 1 back at his village. That was the last we ever saw of him and later that week we discovered that the estate agents refused to keep the farm on their books because they did not want anyone else to go through what we had gone through.
We eventually arrived at the second house. It was a cold, miserable grey day in March, we got out of the car and fell in love with the place. There was a three-room house, bedroom, kitchen and store room (by kitchen I mean a room with a solid fuel cooker in it, nothing else whatsoever). There was a wood store, an outside toilet off the set of The Beverley Hillbillies, a stone barn, a blacksmiths smithy (I kid you not), a ruined stone house where the animals would have been kept and a 62 acre garden!
This is the point where we started to get nervous. We knew how far our budget could stretch and we really thought this would be way above our limit. How much was it? Julian didn't know, they hadn't worked that out yet...
Now from the very first moment of contact with the agents you start to realize you know nothing about them. You know nothing about the country, the legal system, the con artists etc. With a country that not many Brits had bought in I had no one else to get advice from. Yes I could have paid a solicitor to do some investigations but I didn't. At some point you either have to pull out completely or jump in with both feet.
Did we have to sign anything there and then? No. We told Julian that we would wait until he could tell us the price and then make our final decision.
We had to wait until we'd been back in the UK for 3 days before we had an answer. Just under £50,000. A lot of money to us but we had planned for this and we said yes.
OK now the process starts. First of all it's not a country where you make offers. Try it if you want to but it doesn't work like the UK at all. To be able to buy land you have to set up a limited company in Slovakia. This will not be necessary after 2010. It is not difficult to do and the company doesn't have to do anything it's just a formality. The agent arranged everything for us and told us we would have to go back to sign some papers. OK off we go again (thank God Ryanair are cheap), papers get signed, we paid a 10% deposit and we flew back to the UK.
Two weeks later I received an email saying I had to go to the British embassy in Bratislava to swear an oath that I am an upstanding citizen of good moral character. Only then will I be able to complete the paperwork to set up the Slovak company. Off we go again. I swear my oath which is written in English, the official then turned the card I had read it from over and said I now had to say it in Slovak...Only kidding he said. I didn't think embassy officials were meant to have a sense of humour.
Incidentally this was the first trip where we got to see the inside of the house other than through the window. I know this sounds very naïve but we knew that we wanted the house no matter what work needed to be done. We didn't really care if bits of the roof were falling down or not, we were quite happy to put some effort in to modernise the place. We did however like what we found.
I should mention at this point that that at no time had we been told how many trips we would have to make or that I would have to go to the embassy. I am 99% certain that we were the first people from the UK who decided to buy a property with land from this estate agent.
Back in the UK we waited for news. We then had a completion date and had to arrange to transfer the balance. At this time the currency in Slovakia was the Slovak Crown. The completion date was four days away, we weren't given much warning and I couldn't transfer directly from British pounds to Crowns. I had to first transfer to Euros then into Crowns and we knew as did the agent that there might be a slight discrepancy with the amount that ended up in their bank account.
We flew over once more at the same time as the money was flying through the banking system. We got there. Signed the final papers and the estate agent said we did owe a little more money but it didn't matter, we could pay them when we got back to the UK. Talk about a laid back attitude.
Some of you will be reading this in disbelief. Did I really go through with it all? Yes, we now have a wonderful house, everything really is above board and legal. We have since met plenty of other people who have done what we did and the estate agent Andrea and her husband Julian are now firm friends.
I have to pay book keeping fees for one more year for the company that I set up. After that the company can be closed.
In Slovakia, everyone has to pay a TV license, you have to pay property tax based on how much land you own and you have to set up a bank account to deal with things like electricity and insurance and so on. The estate agents did all this for us for no extra charge. Apart from the costs for setting up the company there were no hidden charges, no catches and no con artists. It was one of the best decisions we have ever made and also one of the most traumatic, the waiting for news was sometimes unbearable.
If I had known someone from the UK who had done this before, I could have slept a lot better at night but we really were in at the deep end.
The house buying process really is very simple if you don't buy any land. You pay a ten percent deposit. This will not be returned if you pull out. Two weeks later you pay the balance. All the legal work gets done in between. The house is then legally yours. I think because the whole process is so simple I was looking for a catch but it really does work.
If you decide to sell within 2 years of purchase you pay 19% tax. After 2 years there is no tax!
Incidentally the day we signed the final contract we were told that a businessman had offered the vendor twice the amount that we paid. The agents said this can happen when people are trying to launder money. The vendor chose to stay with us as the house was where she grew up, she was selling it after her mother had died and liked to think it would be lived in again. There are plenty of houses that are lying around rotting away because they were just bought as a money laundering exercise.
Would I recommend buying property in Slovakia? Yes.
Would I recommend the agents I used? Yes.
What points should you consider? If you do anything that the Slovaks don't expect you to do be prepared for a bit of a battle. Things will work out but not always the way you think they will.
Where our house is we are not far from the Hungarian border. Our nearest neighbour speaks Slovak, Hungarian and fluent English. We are in touch regularly with him when we are not there, he tells us when we get mail and translates it all for us if we want him to. He lights the fire in the house before we go in cold weather and checks for any problems. Not everyone is as lucky as we are, the best advice I can give is learn some Slovak it builds bridges quicker than anything else. The people are 100% genuine, we can't imagine a better location for a house.
We are currently trying to sell our one bed flat through Hatched, a Hitchin based online estate agent, but they sell properties from other areas as well. It has been on the market for nine months and we have had very few viewings. I think it was only one until this spring when it picked up and we have had another three or four.
Of course the market has not been great for selling, especially to first time buyers, over the past year or so and we went into it fully prepared for the fact that it could take a longer time to sell but with the huge cost savings we thought it was worth a try. Essentially the property will be put on the internet and then left there, waiting for people to ring up and ask to view it, so it would probably be more successful in a sellers market.
They did a good job preparing the property particulars, including a floor plan, 360 degree photos and full description. The photos however, weren't very good so I ended up getting them to use photos I had taken myself. I am constantly surprised by how many high street agents do a lazy job of descriptions on the internet, with no measurements, few photos and rarely a floor plan.
Hatched do seem to try hard to follow up viewings to get you some feedback, according to them they phone three times and email before giving up if they can't get through. However they haven't chased up a viewing that had to be rearranged by the buyers despite me phoning to ask them about it.
Overall, if you are prepared to wait and fancy saving a few thousand then give it a go, if you are not the patient type then just go to a high street agent!
I left this review under 'Estate Agents in general' but now see there is a section about 'online' estate agents to which my review is also relevant.
I want to tell people about ludlowthompson estate & letting agent in London. A refreshing estate/letting agent. Modern with IT so great online services (I could see everything at a website account they gave me), they are friendly & helpful plus they work really hard to get you what you want.
I have let my flat lots of times with different agents (whoever finds the tenant). This time I used Ludlow Thompson and found them to be the most professional and up to date re online facilities. I wish I had used them before...
They have let my properties within a day to a few days for good rents. I was really impressed that they always updated me by phone and email.
The website was really helpful in that I could see progress updated and exactly how many people had clicked on my property details - how cool is that! I like the fact that the website stores all my documents under my own online account - really handy as I have x3 lettings with them.
With all their technology, ludlowthompson are the first kind of 'modern' estate agent I have come across.
The agent that helped me didn't mind showing the flat to tenants in the evenings so all in all I was they worked hard for me.
I have been searching for a house for a while now as you all should know so it does not come as a surprise when I say that I have been using the internet as a resource for our search. Overall I think that without the internet we would not have seen as many houses or even known that many were on the market and we would have certainly not found the house that we have just made an offer on just a few days ago. So what are the online resources for estate agents like and are they any good?
Online Estate Agents What do They Offer and What are They?
Basically any estate agent you know of or any that you see advertising on houses should have an online resource. You can go to their website and get advice, search for property to rent and also arrange viewings and contact the estate agent.
My Experience The Bad:
Well overall I have had a positive experience with online estate agents but I will warn you that responses are extremely quicker if you do go through the agent direct and just give them a call.
The first estate agent we decided to check out online was Jayman and this is because my old driving instructor used to work there and told us they were quite good. As I am employed in a full time job I am quite hard to get in contact with via phone in the week so I thought using the internet and doing everything online would be a good idea as I can just check my emails throughout the day. The search facilities were great but then when it came to registering with the site it would not let me and then I requested a lot of properties to be sent to my email or home address and they arrived two weeks later so not exactly efficient.
Jayman isnt the only site that I had problems registering with as property finder, your move and reeds rains I have not been able to register with effectively. Some sites I did manage to register with would just not send properties through to my email even when the saved search criteria matched them so it does make me wonder whether some sites are set up correctly.
The one other complaint I have about using estate agents online is that they are not exactly that useful when it comes to asking them questions. There was one property I wanted to view but wanted to find out a bit more about and I emailed them but nobody replied but then when I called them at the weekend they said they hadnt even received an email.
One last complaint about using the websites is that some of them take ages to load up and then many of the properties that are on there are not in much detail and you have to phone them up anyway to find out about them. Also I have requested several viewing through websites and they were only arranged when I actually phoned the branches up as I hadnt heard from them.
My Experience The Good:
Whatever I say about estate agents online they are brilliant for searching for property. I search for property to buy and then they go in-depth on many sites asking for area, what type of property, how many bedrooms, when it was put on the market and also the price range you need. The searches do bring up properties quite quickly and all of the sites I have been on do show photos of the property on the main search page so you can have a look to what suits you before you go into detail.
Although I do not think some websites show enough detail they do show you7 the main picture and then some of the particulars but literally just the basics. I have actually only come across DB Roberts that show you the property in great detail on the website and really gives you an idea on what it is like inside. I do think just by looking at the sites though that you can tell if you want to view the property and then you always have the option of requesting more information.
One other thing that online estate agent websites are great for is contact information as I have found all of the phone numbers and emails I have needed to do my house hunt so I think with that respect they are fantastic.
I do not think I would have got as far with this house search as I have without using the internet. Me and my boyfriend have been searching the internet every day as we found that when we walked into estate agents we could not find everything that we wanted to as you have to search all of the properties on the wall where as I prefer it when they are right in front of you.
For me and Dave using the internet to search for properties has been the easiest thing to do as we are looking for properties that are over 20 miles away from where we both live so checking what has been updated onto the websites each day has been very efficient and I find that they are on the web quite soon after the estate agent actually gets them in.
In conclusion though I can only give online estate agents three stars and to be honest if the search engines were not so good and useful they would have only got two. It loses stars because you can search for properties but you cannot do much else and I myself prefer to talk to people anyway as you can get immediate responses to your questions. All they would need to do to get more stars in my books would be to treat people the same online as they do in person but I think if you have made an effort to call them then they are so much more helpful. I would only recommend online for searches but do not hold you breath waiting for email replies.
Thanks for reading.
90% of properties on the web have not been updated. They are a waste of time. Really poor use of such a great tool. 90% of properties on the web have not been updated. They are a waste of time. Really poor use of such a great tool. 90% of properties on the web have not been updated. They are a waste of time. Really poor use of such a great tool. 90% of properties on the web have not been updated. They are a waste of time. Really poor use of such a great tool. 90% of properties on the web have not been updated. They are a waste of time. Really poor use of such a great tool.