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Estate Agent Fees
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Strike (formerly HouseSimple) is an online hybrid estate agency, with a bit of a unique selling point. They claim to offer the ‘full estate agency service’ for free.
While this claim is not completely true - you do have to pay extra for some things that come as standard with other estate agents - we were intrigued by their claim.
Driven by our dedication to estate agent performance, we decided to take a deeper look into how Strike works, and whether they’re any good.
If you’re happy to trade fees for a slower sale, and are confident in your ability to handle the heavy lifting of the sales process, Strike can offer a reasonable service.
However, if you want more support with your sale Strike isn’t as good value as it first appears.
Strike’s basic package is offered for no fee. What’s actually included varies depending on your property’s location.
For certain postcodes in Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, and Sheffield, you can get the following from Strike for free:
If your house isn’t in one of these postcodes, Strike offers the following free services:
Tip: We’d always recommend getting your home valued in-person before you put it on the market. Online valuations are just estimates, and are unable to take in many of the features that make your home unique. If you’re looking to put your property on the market, you can book a free valuation in just a few clicks. Go there now.
Strike makes money through its upgrades and extras. These include things like professional photography, or agent hosted viewings, which usually come as standard in an estate agent’s fee.
Note: If you live outside of the designated postcode areas, you will be unable to ‘boost your sale’ with an in-person valuation, or hosted viewing service.
Strike don’t share the costs of their additional services very clearly on their website, but through a bit of investigation, we found the following fees:
These fees mean that if you wanted to get an experience closer to the ‘full’ estate agency experience, you’d end up having to pay at least £1,116. This is just under 0.75% on a £200,000 property.
As a point of comparison, high street estate agent fees tend to start at around 0.75% too, and will include things like a single point of contact, and specialised knowledge of your local area as standard.
Strike also make money by referring you to partner services. These include: mortgage providers, conveyancers, and removal companies. If you choose to work with one of these providers, Strike will be paid a referral fee.
We’d recommend shopping around before deciding to go with any of these providers. The conveyancing provider Strike recommend is the same as the one used by Purplebricks: Premier Property Lawyers. They have a notoriously bad reputation.
We were curious about Strike’s business model, so we took a look at their terms and conditions, to see what you’re actually signing up for when you use this online estate agent. Here are a couple of the terms that stood out to us:
If you choose to work with Strike, you will sign a sole agency agreement, with a term of 13 weeks. Sole agency is pretty standard when it comes to estate agency contracts in the UK. It basically means that your agent has the ‘sole right’ to sell your home. If you decide you want to work with a different agent, you’ll have to wait till the 13 weeks are over before you can make the switch.
If you ‘upgrade’ your Strike package to include help with viewings, you will have to pay Strike a one-off ‘key management fee’. This appears to be a fee to ensure they store your key securely for the duration of your home sale - and seems to be something that should be included as standard. If you choose this option, be aware of this extra fee.
Strike’s terms and conditions state that the ‘marketing term’ is limited to 6 months. If your house hasn’t sold after 6 months it will be removed from their website, the online property portals, and any other advertising mediums. Any purchased upgrades such as hosted viewings are also limited to this 6 month period. You will likely need to buy these ‘upgrades’ again if you want to continue marketing your house after the 6 months is up.
There’s an interesting clause in the Strike terms and conditions which states that keeping the ‘For Sale’ sign up during the marketing period is compulsory. If you don’t Strike ‘reserve the right to immediately cease the supply of the Services'. If your ‘For Sale’ board gets stolen or damaged, you’ll have to pay a £30 fee.
Beyond the intricacies of their terms and conditions, we also wanted to see what people actually thought about working with this online estate agent. We delved deep into a range of review sites to try and get a real sense of the level of customer service that Strike provides.
At the time of writing, Strike has the following rating on the most popular estate agent reviewing platforms:
Trustpilot - 4.7 out of 5
AllAgents - 4.2 out of 5
Clearly the Strike model is popular! But, looking a bit beneath the surface of the reviews revealed some worrying patterns.
Firstly, we found that the majority of bad reviews came from potential property buyers.
Many complained that they were unable to put in their offers, or that they decided to withdraw from the sale, because of poor communication. This suggests that Strike aren’t providing the ‘professional’ level of negotiation they promise, and sellers might be missing out on offers on their properties.
Even if you end up missing out on ‘only’ 5% of your property’s value, this can really add up. On a £200,000 property, 5% comes to £10,000, more than making up for any difference in fees.
These reviews were taken from Trustpilot:
James Hirst, 19th August 2020: ‘Really poor experience as a buyer. After having an offer accepted the communication has just been non existent… I’d think twice again about offering on a house that is with an online agent.’
Anonymous, 13th August 2020: ‘I am considering pulling out of the purchase just because I can’t get hold of anyone there.’
Steve Harrison, 13th August 2020: ‘Called today 3 times and told everytime some one will ring you back… I’ve probably lost the house I wanted now.’
Ms Elizabeth Henson, 8th August 2020: Her buyer ‘pulled out of sale because of lack of confidence in Strike to handle the situation’ after a failure to confirm the receipt of important financial documentation
The other worrying trend we found was that many sellers had left multiple reviews. This is a sign that sellers are being requested for reviews at different points in their home sale, and many of those who leave reviews haven’t actually sold their property yet.
Melody Leek left 3 reviews. Firstly on the 17 Feb 2020, then on the 20 Jun 2020, and finally on 16 Aug 2020. She was very satisfied with Strike’s service, but the timing of her reviews shows that her property was on the market for at least 6 months.
Sinead Sweeney left 6 reviews, between 11 April 2019 and 28th July 2020. All the reviews were 5* and Sinead is happy with the service, but her property was on the market for at least 15 months.
Tom Capel left 4 reviews between 22 January 2020 and 13th August 2020. His property was on the market for at least 7 months.
Nationally, the average time to sell a house is 4 months.
As it’s not a one off pattern in the reviews, suggests an issue with the agent service itself. It seems that without the expertise and support of a local agent, Strike are unable to offer as effective a service. Communication is a common problem with online agents, because they operate over a larger area and have to deal with more properties than a high street agent. This means they have less capacity to prioritise individual sales.
This finding is in line with research by The Advisory, an independent advice service, found that sellers using an online estate agent could be missing out on: up to 48% more viewings, 64% more offers, and an extra 5% on their final sales price. 5% may not sound much, on a £200,000 house this amounts to an extra £10,000.
Tip: If you’re looking for a quick, and free, way to sell your property, you might want to consider a cash house buyer. We go through the basics, and give you tips on how to find a legitimate buyer, in this blog post.
On their homepage, Strike states they put 8432 properties onto the market in 2019. They don’t however say how many of those have actually sold.
If all these properties were sold at the 2019 average house price of £247,000, the online agent would have sold over £2.8 billion worth of property.
Given that they also state on their website that they’ve sold over £3.2 billion worth of property since the company started (in 2007) it seems unlikely that the majority of this was all sold last year.
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