You don’t need to walk far through the suburban streets these days to notice signs of a significant shift-change in the way we sell our homes.

Increasingly the For Sale signs adorning properties up and down the city are not those of the traditional high street estate agents.

When it comes to selling your home, there is a growing trend to “do it yourself”, through one of the rising number of online estate agents.

The internet is changing the shape of many industries – from the way we shop to the way we access our media – but it seems that estate agents are also not immune from the rise in all-things “online”.

While traditional estate agents have given vendors an online presence for many years, this new wave of “online” estate agents offer a more hands-off service, for a fraction of the price of traditional high street estate agents.

Industry experts have predicted that by 2020 50 per cent of house sales could be done through this new channel, and a survey, conducted by Face For Business last month (Jan) found that out of 1,000 members of the public questioned on the subject, some 34 per cent would now prefer to use an online estate agent over the services of a traditional high street agent.

The big difference between the new estate agents compared to their traditional cousins is price, with vendors paying a one-off fee to list their property, which also allows them to get it on the property search giants like Property Pal and Property News.

High street agents charge sellers a percentage of the sale price of the property — so the more your home is worth, the higher your fee. A typical fee of 1.5 per cent means a fee of £3,000 on a £200,000 property.

Online estate agents, meanwhile, charge a flat fee that can be as low as £499, regardless of how much your home is worth – meaning that the new system is particularly attractive to the high end of the market.

Estate agents in London were this week left with their heads in their hands when a multi-millionaire decided he was going to put his £24 million 18-bedroom Belgravia mansion on the market with an online firm. The audacious move, which made headlines in the Sunday nationals, could save him more than £430,000 in estate agency fees. But you don’t have to be a multi-millionaire to decide that doing it yourself is fast becoming a real alternative.

Industry experts estimate that 4 per cent of all homes are now sold through an online agent each year — around 48,000 — and predict that internet firms could be taking up to 50 per cent of all sales by 2020.

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