There is a giant schism opening up in the property world. Estate Agency – as we know it, is moribund.
Could it be that I am prone to catchy sound bites or is there a genuine shift in the property marketplace?
I will put forward two very different sides to this, both of which I hope will shed some clarity.
I have ranted on in the past about the new online low service hybrids. They have succeeded by offering very little service for virtually no money, thereby capitalising on the fact that so many agents have given so little for far too long. Anyone within the industry who is intelligent knows what a nonsense it is, but there are still plenty of consumers out there who have been completely misinformed.
The industry needs to address its standards and thereby bear the responsibility for this low-grade hybrid to have developed and grown. How can people really believe that a low-cost, no-service alternative is the best way to reap the most reward from one’s property? Simply put, sellers are not the best people to sell their own properties.
However, what is most frustrating is our industry’s inability to value the service it offers and the difference that can be made to achieving the best prices for clients when experience and hard work are factored into the equation. The rumour mill is flush with stories of top agencies cutting their fees. It’s almost like it is their only answer to the threat of the hybrid. There is value in a premium service, particularly when the agency is the one shelling out the hard cash and is only remunerated in the event of a successful sale.
The other side of this new paradigm is the fact that property (as a collective word), is now more about investment funds rather than traditional estate agency. Property is an asset class, rather than simply bricks and mortar. Therefore, if estate agents are to demonstrate their value, they have to show a deeper understanding of property from an investment perspective and to be able to speak the same as the breed of hedge funds and private equity.
Valuing high, and dropping fees to win instructions and market share, is a sure way to seal the fate of the side of estate agency that is already on the ropes. Only those who innovate and sophisticate will succeed and flourish. This industry requires an elasticity of mind and purpose to find its future in an intelligent marketplace.