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Best online estate agents

June 17, 2020

https://www.homelight.com/find-real-estate-agentsOnline estate agencies like OpenRent and Purplebricks barely existed a decade ago, but their popularity has increased hugely in the past few years, to the extent that they now have up to 10 percent of the market share of properties in the UK and there are now a few different options to compare. 

Why use an online estate agency?

Online estate agencies are not for everyone. Whilst traditional high street estate agencies tend to offer a full service, including marketing, viewings and negotiating offers; online estate agencies tend to offer a more basic service that requires the landlord or vendor to do a lot more of the legwork.

But the advantage is that they are much cheaper. Traditional estate agencies normally charge a percentage of the rental value or property sale value, whereas online estate agencies tend to charge a fixed amount. Some, of the best value players in the lettings space are Portico Direct charging as little as £1 and OpenRent  which charges £29 for access to the major portals.

Check to see if you can get Portico Direct in your area

As long as vendors and landlords are happy doing most of the work themselves, they can save a small fortune – particularly if the property is at the pricier end of the spectrum, where the percentage charging model costs the client much more.

When it comes to online lettings agents like OpenRent, Upad and Portico Direct, landlords will often have to do the property management themselves. However most online lettings agents will help with referencing the tenants and creating a tenancy agreement, and some will also collect the rent for an additional fee.

Who are the best online estate agents?

Here’s a list of some of the most popular online lettings and estate agents (in increasing order of cost):

Name
Minimum fee
Type
Advertising
FindaFlatFreeFlat shareSpareroom.co.uk
Portico Direct£1 per tenancyLettings onlyRightmove, Zoopla, OnTheMarket
Openrent£29 per tenancyLettings onlyRightmove, Zoopla, Gumtree
Upad£149 per tenancyLettings and managementRightmove, Zoopla
Howsy£468 per annumProperty managementn/a
Purplebricks£580 per tenancySales and LettingsRightmove, Zoopla
Yopa£999 per saleSales onlyRightmove, Zoopla

All prices correct at time of writing (16 June 2020). “Minimum fee” selected from the most basic service that provides access to major marketing portals (if available).

How should you select an online estate agent?

The first thing to note is that not all online estate agencies offer lettings services. Yopa is focused exclusively on property sales. Howsy on the other hand, offers a property management service that requires you to use Upad to advertise your properties on the major portals.

Purplebricks is a well known name in the UK, and charges different fees based on the value of your property. Although it provides lettings and sales services, at the time of writing, more than 98% of the properties listed by Purplebricks on Rightmove were sales rather than lettings properties.

Findaflat is particularly well suited to landlords renting their properties room by room. It doesn’t advertise on the major portals, but does provide access to spareroom.co.uk.

Openrent and Portico Direct, both offer a range of lettings services, with Openrent charging £29 for its most basic package offering access to Rightmove and Zoopla, compared with just £1 for Portico Direct.

Which property portals should your online estate agency advertise on?

Rightmove has for a long time achieved the largest market share of any of the property portals, so it is absolutely essential that your property appears on there if you want to maximise the number of applicants you receive for your property. Zoopla has been a close number two to Rightmove for many years, and in our experience is particularly strong in London. 

OnTheMarket, is a newer rival to the main two portals and, as of its latest annual report, listed properties from 13,364 estate agents compared with 19,809 for Rightmove, suggesting its coverage is only one third less than Rightmove’s and should therefore provide a useful boost to applicant numbers for any given property.

Another option for advertising is to use the property section of gumtree. It is free to list on gumtree, and Openrent also lists here. Gumtree is also available in the US, though estate agents there are more commonly found on sites like Homelight, Zillow, Realtor, etc.

Select the best value online estate agency that gives your property the best exposure


There’s a direct correlation between the number of applicants received and the price achieved for your property. So in our view, it’s essential to get exposure to the three largest property portals: Rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket.

If you want help with the management and maintenance of your property, then Howsy seems like a good option. If you want to sell your property, both Purplebricks and Yopa offer packages from £999.

Of the online lettings agents, Portico Direct is the only one to offer access to OnTheMarket and does so for only £1, making it the least expensive option on the list offering access to the major portals. It covers 99% of the UK, so as long as the service is available in your area, it seems like a pretty compelling proposition.

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