I think it is clear to see that we are in a tougher market than we have seen for many years, with the effects of the Brexit vote and also the General election it has made the role of an estate agent much harder than it has been for many years and in terms of the calibre of agents, the bar has been raised substantially.
The days of “All you had to do is answer a phone first and you would have a deal” are long gone, it is now a case of educating your buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants on the market, advising them on the current market conditions, the processes and what the likely outcome is for them.
I am seeing a lot of very experienced agents leaving the industry that they love, due to work life balance and in some cases their concerns about earning potential in this tougher market. It is a shame to see so many of my peers leaving, another thing I have noticed is the shift from experienced professionals moving to online agencies.
As a recruiter on a daily basis I, just like many property professionals, see the constant battles on Linkedin between online agents and the more traditional agencies. I have noticed that now many of the smaller independents and the larger corporate agencies who previously used to Linkedin to battle with each other now reserve their usage of Linkedin to join forces and battle with the online agencies.
To me, it has raised a few questions:
Is traditional estate agency is becoming a thing of the past?
Is the new flashy hybrid online agency going to become our future?
Which model will come out on top?
Is there a place in the market for both traditional estate agency and also online agency?
Is the model so different? Surely it is just paying the fees upfront yet still working with estate agents who were trained in the traditional way?
In terms of revolutionising estate agency, the objective is still the same, a property is listed by a professional and then sold or let, the majority of online agents seem to be agents who cut their teeth so to speak in traditional agency but then moved over to online, taking years of experience with them.
Many business analysts from outside of the industry have likened the evolution of estate agency to; Blockbuster and Netflix or the black cab to Uber, 10 years ago who would have thought that in 2017 the world’s largest taxi firm would own no taxis and the world’s largest accommodation providers Airbnb would own no property.
The online agents that I have spoken to, all seem very happy with their choices and put this down to having flexibility in their work life balance and not being constricted to a structured diary, in their words they are able to make more money, working better hours and providing a greater level of service to each client.
Many of the traditional agents question the service that is provided by online agents and the processes that make them different, so paying fees upfront, whether the property is sold or not, which they say questions the motivations of the agent, they are also questioning the way that the fees are presented and also the service that customers receive.
However, looking at reviews for both online and traditional agency, I see common themes in customer complaints, it seems to be clarity, service and the age old, over promising and under delivering, could this be the answer?
Surely both models can exist harmoniously if they operate with integrity, clarity, provide outstanding service and do not under deliver, look at First Direct they are an online bank, who operate perfectly well within a market full of physical branches.
What are your thoughts?