Why estate agents aren’t going to be out of a job any time soon

Guest Post via Property Division and Lawsons & Daughters:

There’s been much chatter in the last few years or so that the ‘tech revolution’ is going to leave estate agents discarded and out of a job with new websites that can do things far more efficiently making the original model effectively obsolete. We can see this pattern of thinking with the launch of sites such as Poundland tycoon Steve Smith’s new site EstatesDirect, which allows Britons to sell their homes for as little as £390. As well as this, there’s Sarah Beeny’s site Tepilo, which originally was a completely free platform for buyers and sellers to communicate and negotiate. However, it’s set to re-launch as an online agent and has merged with Think Property, based in Essex.

From our experience, while such sites are an interesting contribution to the market place, there’s not really any direct threat to estate agents for now. While estate agents need to be across technological changes and ensure their digital strategy is up to scratch so they create a strong brand and don’t miss out on potential sales, we also need to bear in mind that buying and selling property is an enormously complicated business and not one that can be easily undertaken by the faint-hearted. What with the legal aspect, the marketing demands, the selling skills required – you’d have to be a pretty savvy business man/woman to get it right.

For example, when a estate agent sells a property to someone, they understand their market-base intricately and also have a wide contact list they can use for marketing purposes. Essentially, they know their clients. They know what kind of buyer is looking for certain properties and can make sure that they see the relevant ones. Tailoring the approach is essential and is not something that can be done overnight. Getting access to a large, local base of clients is a specialist skill and takes years to build-up. That’s not to say that someone can’t try to go through the process themselves, it’s just when you pay for a service you pay for skills, experience and, most importantly, time. So if you’re a busy professional with a family it’s simply not realistic you’ll be able to sell a property easily and quickly.

Another benefit to using an estate agent is the fact that if they’re the right agent with the right skills; they’re likely to have a whole host of positive things to bring to the table. In a perfect scenario they’d effectively be a one-stop-shop, able to take care of the legal aspect, offer advice about investment opportunities as well as make sure all parties are satisfied and that the appropriate properties are viewed by the appropriate people. Time wasters are another big problem and in the online world there’s no way of knowing who’s serious and who’s not.

One of the reasons that some people believe that it’ll be relatively ‘easy’ to sell their property themselves is because of the growth of online social networks and opportunities to use the net to do their own thing. They’re often under the impression that they just have to master these tools and Bob’s your uncle. This is true, however it takes a lot longer than just a few weeks – and it’s not a good idea to learn while you’re trying to sell your property! Many estate agents these days have a strong social media presence, inside information to the areas they deal with as well as a good content marketing strategy – although there are still many who haven’t yet got up to date with this. The ones who are on the ball however, can market to a whole host of social networks and their followers and write about many aspects of different areas, such as schools, green parks, transport, cultural activities and the like. This gives customers a great insight into where to live and increases the likelihood they’ll want to see your property.

As home buyers demand more and more information about where they’re going to buy a property and the law regularly changes in terms of what’s asked from both home buyers and sellers alike, it’s crucial to have someone regularly informing you of these developments. That’s not to say there’s no place for sites which offer more information and the opportunity for individuals to take on the task; but as to when it becomes mainstream is anyone’s guess as it requires so much effort from those who don’t have the relevant experience. This is why, in our humble opinion, estate agents are not going anywhere for a while yet.

Thanks to Lawsons & Daughters, an estate agent in Putney for this article.