The national DIY web sites are not the answer to most house sellers’ dreams.

The internet is radically changing the way that consumers search for and buy property in the UK and so we shouldn’t be too surprised that it is also beginning to have a radical impact on the way property is sold too. The most obvious sign of this is the every growing list of national property web sites launching on your TV screens offering a stripped back version of what the traditional High Street has to offer. In essence the pitch is the same, that they do “everything” that a more traditional agent does, only for a fraction of the price. There are two problems with this, the first of which is that they charge an up-front fee so have no incentive to actually sell the house. The second is that despite what they claim, after advertising your home and calling to book a viewing, they leave much of the rest to you. Great if you have the skill to negotiate directly with buyers to get the best price, know the questions to ask to check they are in as good a position as they say they are, and also have the skills and knowledge to hold a chain together when – as it inevitably does in this business – things go horrible wrong. The truth is that most buyers recognise that the sale of their most important financial asset will need expert knowledge and skill from a good locally based estate agent to get a successful sale at the best possible price. That’s not to say that they are happy with the status quo – far from it – indeed the growth of BigBlackHen.com has been on the back of consumers looking for an alternative to High Sreeet agents, one that gives them proper local estate agency skills, advice and expertise, but costs less than traditional agents. So don’t expect the national DIY sites to take over the world. Most people will still opt for local expertise. But the way in which that is delivered is changing too. And that is the real story.