Log on to Move out; Property Web Portals Cover Most of the Market. So, Asks Jessie Hewitson, Is This the End of the High Street Estate Agent?
Byline: JESSIE HEWITSON
WHAT would your local High Street look like without all the estate agents?
It may be a vision of the future. While in times past, home- seekers began their search by popping into the estate agent, now, most of us simply log on to the internet.
In fact, the Spicerhaart agency found that 80 per cent of its clients would rather view particulars posted on the web than pinned up in an estate agent's window.
Most of these web searches begin on property portals - websites featuring pictures and details of a wide range of market properties.
These sites have come a long way since their advent six years ago, both in quality and information.
As well as the usual list of room measurements and features, you can expect an array of photographs, floor plans, a video tour, maps and even information about the local area.
'When I started in this industry, print advertising was everything, and the internet was seen only as a useful add-on,' says Ian Springett, chief executive of Prime location.com, who started the online property portal in 2001.
'Now the situation is reversed.' Rightmove.co.uk is the market leader and lists 800,000, or 85 per cent of properties on the market in the UK.
It features international properties in more than 70 countries, as well as contact details of the 15,000 British agents advertising their properties on the site.
In terms of coverage, it is unrivalled. It will list most of the properties for sale in the area in which you are looking; the site is easy to navigate; and you don't have to register to use it.
PropertyFinder.com is the biggest alternative, with details of 340,000 British properties, plus a selection of international homes.
Handy interactive maps make searching particularly easy.
You don't have to register to search, and it has many useful features, including local news stories and blogs covering everything from renting your property in retirement to living next door to nudists.
Primelocation.com is a little smaller, with 250,000 entries, but caters to the higher end of the market: the average price of its listed properties is [pounds sterling]500,000. …