It is now only a decade ago that industry analysts were lining up to tell us that we were about to witness the death of the high street estate agent. In the midst of what came to be dubbed ‘dotcom mania’, many made these overzealous predictions, with experts from far and wide heralding the fall of everything from estate agents to supermarkets.
Some High Street Agents Continue to Flourish
However, although we have undoubtedly seen some major successes in the online real estate sector, the growth of the online estate agent has not been large enough to completely crush the traditional high street estate agent and, contrary to the thoughts of many who believed they would die, many high street agents continue to flourish. Despite the continued and sustained successes of some high street estate agents, however, many still remain under siege from their online counterparts. Gradually, a number have seen their portfolio of houses shrink, with many failing to replace the properties they are selling. But, why are people moving online, and what’s so good about it?
Only 2% Sell Online, But Many More Consider
At present, figures suggest that the rise of the online estate agent isn’t as meteoric as some may have us believe. A study released by the Office of Fair Trading shows that only around 2% of homeowners sell their properties online, with a further 27% saying that they would ‘consider it’ as an alternative to the traditional way of selling.
What Does This Increased Competition Mean For Customers?
For customers, this ongoing battle for supremacy can only be a good thing, forcing prices and fees down while pushing service levels ever higher.
The truth of the matter is that, with competition increasing year on year, estate agents have to increase their offering for their customers in order to survive. If a customer can’t get what they’re looking for with an acceptable level of fees then they’ll simply look somewhere else instead. The market really is that cutthroat at the moment. For estate agents, the tightrope between earning good commission and minimal profits is becoming ever tighter.
Online Agents Provide Greater Information
Ever since the financial crash back in 2008, people have been concerned with getting more and more for their money and, as a result, people are now much more willing to go the extra mile when conducting research. This is where online estate agents are perfect, with a simple search engine query providing historical data for the area that someone is searching for about a house. By getting this information free of charge, a buyer can then gauge their offer on a property, knowing how the asking price lines up with historical sales. Going back a decade, something like this wouldn’t have been possible, with people simply negotiating with an estate agent based on their budget and very little else.
Specialism and the Online Market
As well as all this, the specialism of the online market allows people who are searching for a specific type of property to get all of their relevant results in one place, without even leaving the house. For example, if you’re on benefits and need a property that accepts DSS, then you can simply go online to somewhere like DSS Move, saving you from traipsing round the shops on the high street, while also avoiding any stigma which might be attached to claiming housing benefits.
To conclude, the growth of the online estate agent has been huge, but we are still not yet at the point where they will completely overtake the traditional high street estate agent. However, with greater choice, a wider variety of data and specialism in certain areas, it is clear that the traditional high street agent has to change soon.