The Future Of Estate Agency
Happening upon my eighteenth anniversary in estate agency, I feel a sense of nostalgia when speaking with past and present (and future) colleagues. Talking about the future of estate agency. How our industry embraces change, through challenge, and when, if ever, we will be regarded by the general public with the respect we deserve.
However, the conversation at a dinner party or barbecue (wow, remember those) with non-industry friends has never changed. “What’s happening with the market?”. “What’s my house worth now?”. Undoubtedly two of the most asked questions to trip the tongue when in the company of an estate agent.
How strange for a country that is uber-obsessed with property and homeownership to not wholeheartedly embrace those who make it happen?
Where did we come from?
I remember my days, starting as a negotiator and on a Saturday (and the odd occasion I was arriving late to the branch), having a queue of buyers waiting outside to find out what had come to the market that week.
Rightmove, alongside other portals, started to steer the traffic in their direction. Then fast forward just eight years later to my running a multi-branch operation, and the only souls to pass the branch threshold were the viewing clerk and the canvasser.
Not for loathing the high street, but more for a desire to further understand how this new world of digital property searching and instant availability could benefit the consumer, I chose to be involved with the launch of the best known hybrid estate agency. We took it region by region across the UK and then internationally, launching the brand personally in Australia and across the USA.
Many lessons were learnt, however, and primarily, I can confidently say that you do not require a high street office to sell homes successfully. Just as is standard across the rest of the great global real estate markets.
Where do we go?
Consumers don’t need to traipse the high street to engage with agents when they’re able to view the market from the comfort of their own home, at a time to suit them.
The ability to review the market from home has been exacerbated into a desire, need or prerequisite to do so given the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. The “in-branch” experience now has little relevance or meaningful impact.
Now we can even virtually see our potential new home via 3D interactive tours. Whilst this will never wholly take the place of an in-person viewing, we can save time for all parties involved by bringing the right people to the right property.
Buyers and sellers alike may start only want to deal with an estate agent or buy from an estate agent that can provide that service. Especially because the virtual tours and property data available can now let you know everything about the property before seeing the property in person.
We’re embracing this here at the Agency UK and empowering our clients and agents alike.
My view (and my opinion only) on estate agency over the next five years;
- Estate agents on the high street will become obsolete unless they have a boutique or particular market nuance.
- Larger estate agency firms will move to one central hub office servicing a more extensive area.
- Virtual reality will evolve so that buyers can walk through the home and change the furniture/décor to suit their style (I can show you one of our latest virtually staged homes as proof of the power of this tool!)
- Buyers will be better informed on every aspect of the home before walking through the front door.
- 80% of the estate agency workforce will work from home
- There will be a shift to a majority of self-employed/partnership estate agency workforce for the better of the clients and the agent.
- Estate agency will once again be viewed as a profession due to regulation, qualifications and the power of the partnership agency model.
- The conveyancing process in the UK will be overhauled and digitalised, which will shorten transaction times and reduce fall-through rates.
All in my humble opinion and not without candour; if you had told me 20 years ago that this was the future of estate agency, I would have said, “You can keep your Rightmove leads; I’ve got my hotbox!”
Andy Vass – Co-Founder