Trevor Abrahmsohn: My Take On Online Vs Offline Agents

You get one shot at selling your home. Online agent or offline agent, which is it to be?

As things stand at present online, estate agency services occupy 3% of the market and it is predicted to rise to 7%. The principal of paying 20% upfront of an average estate agents fee, in the vain expectancy of selling your property at the highest possible price, is fatally flawed.

Let me explain why.

The online agency employs the services of a local estate agent who meets you at your house to discuss, amongst other things, value. This could be up or down of the real figure by a large margin and then, you are ‘on your own mate!’ The agent is getting a small fee for the attendance and, therefore, doesn’t exactly have his/her ‘heart in it’ – can you blame them?

You have to show applicants around the property yourself and handle the negotiations, as best you can, with, for example, a ‘Ladybird DIY version’ of ‘how to sell your home’.

You will then have the dubious task to monitor the sale with the buyers and the solicitors for both sides, directly, which ordinarily should not be your responsibility and you hope and pray that the sale proceeds as expected.

Can you be sure that the, so-called, potential buyers who phone you directly do not have ulterior motives to visit your house?

Absolutely not. They could of course be ‘casing the joint’ or even have more sinister intentions but, they will certainly not be accompanied by an agent for your protection. In some cases ‘bottom feeders’ specifically target on-line agency sellers in order to try and ‘steal a bargain’ which they then sell back to the market for a substantial gain. What a deal!

As a doctor ‘would not deliver his own baby’ how could you expect an unsuspecting homeowner to do the work of a highly trained estate agent? On the face of it, the allure of gaining a discount of 80% from conventional agents fees is to some, irresistible, but if you under-sell by many tens of thousands of Pounds, this could be the most expensive mistake you ever make.

There can’t be anything better than a contingency based estate agents fee service, where you get exactly what you want from the sale of your home and only when you do, does the agent get their fee and frankly – they deserve every penny of it.

You can ‘mess them about’ at will, withdraw the property and then bring it on to the market again, over price it and make the agent take years to obtain a sale and yet the fee does not change and only becomes payable when you sell. I call this an equitable arrangement.

Selling your home, particularly in the present, challenging, market is much more sophisticated than you think and it is so easy to go badly wrong. You could pay a hefty price penalty for trying to save money on fees.

Yes, there are successes but many more ‘horror’ stories besides.

The boss: Trevor is CEO of Glentree and agent for the rich and famous

At least with a conventional agent when you close the door of your home for the last time, you are able to nurse that contented feeling that there was nothing more you could have done to sell for better terms.

The Great British Public are instinctively reserved and would rather ‘run naked through the streets’ than they would negotiate the sale of their own home.

Is this a model for the understated UK public or is it more appropriate for, say, the American/Australian consumer?

At Glentree we have a uniquely high success rate of some 85% of conversions from under-offer to successful sales. As a rule we exceed the sellers expectations of price and, in some cases, we use ‘strategic meetings’, unique to ourselves, which attempt to replicate the heightened drama of, say, an auction environment, where a deal is struck at the crescendo and all parties shake hands afterwards in a ‘morally bound ritual’.

This keeps the deal together far more efficiently whilst the documents are processed by the solicitors, the mortgage requirements are sorted, structural surveys carried out or property chains allowed to take place, which could consume a month or more. Gazumping and gazundering are far less common under these circumstances and this service we offer stretches from ‘Snap’ to 12 Dimensional Chess and anywhere between.

We charge no more for these unique facilities and, perhaps, this is why we are at the forefront of our industry for over 40 years now.


Trevor Abrahmsohn is CEO and Founder of Glentree International, specialising in the luxury property markets in North London including some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

T: 020 8209 1149, M: 07831 339699, Twitter: @tsabrahmsohn or Joy Moon, M: 07964 287078, E: joy@joymoon.co.uk