So a major corporate high street estate agency has launched an online estate agency model in association with a high street supermarket. Is this a sign of things to come? It’s certainly got people talking and like it or not there could be more of these new age estate agencies on the way.
Here at House Network we’ve been quietly going about our business for seven years and were the first estate agency brave enough to pull off of the high street and offer a fixed fee nationwide service, in that seven year period we have seen massive growth alongside more and more buyers looking at the online portals for their next property rather than the local paper and local branch.
There will be plenty of discussions around the board room tables now that a large corporate has taken notice of this switch in consumer behaviour. Not only are buyers looking online but sellers are now asking the question of why are high street agencies charging such high fees, this is prompting them to seek out a more modernised version of estate agency that cuts out the costs of the high street model and opens up the online market.
I’ve long been a believer that you don’t need a high street office to run a successful estate agency, my last 2 offices in the high street brought about 1% of buyers and sellers through the door, no-one ever came in and everything was done over the phone or email. Granted some agents need the high street presence as they rely on this foot traffic but more and more are becoming brave enough to try it without and are seeing great results.
There are other methods of agency developing including a personal agent rather than a branch and from what I gather this is also beginning to take off again without the need for the high street branch.
You can’t help but feel that the estate agency market is heading for change and that’s not the “norm” but beware high street lovers – this change is taking place right now and will be one of the fastest transitions in recent times.
Large corporates are cutting branches, where you had 2 offices in one town you now have 1, where you had 6 people in a branch you now have 3 so it’s already started to take effect.
I’d love to ask 100 traditional high street agents what their business plan would look like if they were starting again from scratch in 2010, would it include the high street branch network, expensive and long leases, would their long term vision be one of perhaps a “Super Branch” network whereby one branch covers a wider area thus opening the doors to more commissions and less staffing costs?
Or would they be really brave and remove offices from their business plan but cover the country at the same time through mobile agents? Now that would be something, or perhaps they will just keep their faith in what they have always done and remain committed to the high street.
Time will tell but like it or not, change is most definitely upon us.