The Hidden Costs Of Selling Your Home With Online Agents

Getting your home sold in just one day with multiple offers might sound too good to be true, but these days there are many start-ups and tech-backed companies promising to do just that. They guarantee a sale in a certain time period, buy the house directly from you, or offer a platform where you accept and review online bids from buyers.

It sounds like a dream come true, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out and has some serious hidden costs.

Hidden Cost #1: Low-Ball Offers

The main reason why most sellers choose to list with a real estate agent is to maximize the value of their homes, and the data backs this up. According to research, the average “For Sale By Owner” sales price is significantly lower ($490,000) than the average price of a home represented by an agent ($550,000). This is because a real estate agent who is immersed in their local market understands how to price a home properly, utilize staging to show off the home’s best features, make expert recommendations on any fixes that could be made to get a higher value, and negotiate with the buyer’s agent so you don’t end up cutting the price in order for the buyer to commit.

For flat-fee platforms, the offers you receive depend on how many people can actually see your home. Reviewers on reported being unable to contact their agent, getting few showings and no offers or sale but still having to pay. They also all mention underselling and underpricing. 

“Pay for the listing, not the sale. No motivation to deliver. No consistency. Always after more money. Eventually sold with a conventional agent. Get what you pay for.”

Purplebricks Customer

Hidden Cost #2: No Human Contact

If you’re the type of person who lets every call go to voicemail, this problem can sound like a positive. But consider the fact that when you sell your home, you’re probably going to want someone to call if your listing contains a bunch of errors and takes six weeks to show up on their website. Even worse: when any messages you send about those issues go unanswered. 


“The agent who initially started with the sale and whose knowledge of real estate left a lot to be desired resigned from PB in the 2nd week of the sale and from that time on we never saw or heard from another agent until the day before settlement (4 weeks later) with a phone call. Though we did have one call from management which was a waste of time.  So consequently we were left with chasing up an forwarding information for the other party so as to continue with the sale. They were certainly there at the end to collect their commission for doing what I’m not sure, though the sold sign on the house placard placed there after settlement did note “no commission” I’m still trying to work that one out. ”

PurpleBricks Customer


Hidden Cost #3: Unexpected Surprises

The main issue a seller will run into is a lack of one-on-one representation. For example, when you list with a service like Purple Bricks that promises to sell your home for a flat fee, you’re matched with an “area expert” who may be stretched for time. 

“My property was on the market for 90 days and had just 6 viewings. I withdrew my property and instructed [a local agent]. They listened to the feedback and took on board that the price was too high. Within 11 days they had shown a total of 36 people around my property and 3 offers came in. My house has now sold.”

- Purplebricks Customer


Another seller wasn’t so lucky. Over the course of eight weeks, their first agent was fired, then the next four quit within 1-2 weeks of the other, and another never even called.

Further, a real estate agent markets your home beyond simply hanging a sign in front and placing the listing on a website. When going the alternative route, if you don’t have an “expert” who is willing to do more than upload photos, you could end up having to do things like distributing flyers about your own home. 


In the end, the “Silicon Valley” way of selling a home isn’t for everyone. If you’re thinking about

making your next move, start by getting in touch with a real estate agent to learn more about what

you can expect from the selling process.