Estate agency in the UK has changed a lot over this last decade, this in part has been down to the influence of how buyers and sellers interact with estate agents, now that the internet is the go to place for, well everything!
The effects of the current #COVID-19 crisis have shown us that now more than ever we need to embrace these changes.
UK estate agency had remained unchanged for decades and not followed the journey of its clients.
Until the rise of internet we were all used to traveling to the high street and/or trawling through newspapers to find the information we needed. You may well remember waiting for the Thursday property papers to be published before you were able to find out what new properties were for sale, these of course are now a thing of the past.
In 2020, we now seek information and interaction, on demand. The vast majority of high Street estate agents have seen footfall virtually disappear and replaced with phone calls and emails, this makes the high street premises which is of course an expense to the business an unnecessary one, which continues be passed onto the customer offering no benefit to the end result. Their restrictive operating hours circa 9 - 5:30 also mean that buyers and sellers continue to simply miss out.
Thousands of high street agents have been closing their doors in recent times which is of no surprise and only follows the closures of some of major retailers around the world who have failed to adapt to these changes in consumer behavior. For any other than the absolute best in the industry this model is likely to all but disappear just as their footfall has.
This change in consumer behaviour lead to the invention of the online only agents, who failed to understand the importance of the role of an estate agent and that property is a people business. These firms came and went and those that still operate fail to provide the skills to offer the advice and support that most buyer and sellers still desire.
There was then the rise of the hybrid estate agent, like the onliners most of these firms have failed and gone bust. The model in theory was to combine the best of both, yet fails to offer the levels of support that the traditional estate agent have been able to offer.
Hybrid agencies have spent millions on advertising to gain awareness, this has over the course of circa 6 years gained them a market share which peaked in 2019 and is now on the decline. In the main they failed to retain the best agents to act for their clients and in replace are 'local property experts' who have very little experience or no background in estate agency. They are supported by call centre staff who are also not estate agents and run by people who have no or little estate agency experience. They are becoming self service platforms similar to the onliners of yesteryear.
The new and what we believe to be the future of UK estate agency is the rise of the Personal Property Expert or Bespoke estate agent. These will be self employed estate agents, highly experienced and will come from successful backgrounds who will be supported by central hubs to assist them in providing the best possible experience to their clients.
Its here that both buyer and seller will receive the highest standards of #service, and where sellers will receive the best value for money. These self employed agents will be able to offer the flexibility to interact with their clients where and when they are needed. They will be able to deal with fewer clients providing a more personal service that every buyer and seller deserves.
In other parts of the world where estate agents are classed as professionals, which is coming to the UK very soon, it is these hub models that are the major providers of estate agency and will likely follow suit here in the UK.