Trend Spotter

Back to the future

It’s another year and the property research teams are predicting the future again. There has been much attention given to the development and future of estate agency, with a host of conjecture focusing on the alleged rise of the online agency model and its threat to traditional high street agency. The most recent news has been the Stock Market flotation of PurpleBricks and the purchase of Hatched by Connells last November.
I do believe that there is a genuine threat, especially for the mass-market, and traditional estate agents mostly have themselves to blame. Very little has been done to change the overall perception of the industry by the public, and the marketing – when one considers the value sizes of property trades – is particularly poor.
Property portals are crammed full of sub-standard photography and descriptions of properties that would not gain a passing grade at elementary level. There is so often such a lack of care and consideration involved, with many of the write-ups either being boring and turgid or completely unrepresentative of the properties they are attempting to describe. I am not surprised potential customers are starting to look for alternatives. This is all fuelling the rise of the online estate agency. The traditional agent needs to wake up to the threat and simply deliver a superior service. I know for sure that the best agents deliver a stellar service and have the best interests of their clients in mind: the ultimate aim is to achieve the very best price for their clients. A budget agency with a fixed fee can never produce the quality of service and the marketing collateral and advertising package of a decent agent. It is all very well thinking that you are saving fees on a sale when paying an online agency £595 (+VAT), but any intelligent person will realise the falseness of this economy if the property is not properly marketed.
In 2015, the press made a big deal of the £19m Phillimore Gardens house being sold untraditionally. It is hard to imagine that the vendor could be the best person to sell his own home if house selling is not his or her area of expertise (the house remains unsold). And getting the very best price for your
very own home is, in my view and from my experience of selling, a job that requires a mixture of skill, experience, patience and acumen.
Therefore, the challenge for all traditional agents is to up the ante and deliver on service. Only then will the online agency model have been proven to be
nothing more than a quirk.