Are estate agents guilty of indifference?

According to Richard Rawlings, 2018 will be ‘toughest for agents since the crash of 2008’ and it’s all down to the popularity of online agents.  Why the surprise. Haven’t we all seen it coming?

Online agencies will continue to gain market share, but high street agents have been aware of the threat for some time.  In March 2010 the Daily Mail ran an article entitled – ‘with the rise of online buying could the days of the traditional estate agent be numbered’.

Since the 1980’s traditional estate agents have faced a number of challenges. In 1986 writing in the Estates Gazette Alan Bailey was questioning the future of estate agency. He highlighted the threat posed by the new players entering the market and offering alternative forms of agency.

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The challenges agents faced provided many of them with the stimulus to up their game, leading to a general improvement in the quality and service they provided.

No doubt, online agencies are a bigger threat to the traditional agency that those faced in the 1980’s. It will be interesting to see how these challenges are met.

In an article by Rosalind Henshaw, Rawlings says: “The online agents’ bark may actually be worse than their potential bite.

“Not everyone will want to use an online agency, but most people are now aware that cheaper alternatives to the high street agent exist. This makes regular agents look expensive by comparison.

Too many weak agents have allowed this apparent threat to reduce their fees to globally pathetic levels.”

Rawlings also said that the new sharing society means people talk about their experiences on multiple social media channels. “Talk is cheaper than ever before, so that even the slightest opinion, niggle or compliment can ricochet around the land within seconds.

“Its power over an agent’s reputation is immense. Yet while many agents regard themselves as social media savvy, they miss the point. Their communication may be improving, but they are communicating messages that damage their business.”

*Rawlings said that many agents will go to the wall because of sheer indifference.

He said: “Indifference kills business. At a time of exciting changes in consumer attitudes and behaviours, agents who don’t take a stand or put their head above the parapet may not get shot, they’ll just get sick and wither away. A natural culling process.”

* Rawlings will be on a ‘Saving Sales Tour’ in the first quarter of next year when he says he will be showing agents how to insulate themselves from the icy times ahead.

It starts in Leeds on January 16, and goes on to Exeter, Tunbridge Wells, Cheltenham, Croydon, Welwyn Garden City, Bath, Oxford, Norwich, Romford, Guildford, Reading and Cambridge, before finishing in Canterbury on March 28.

Rawlings said the seminars would be a “real cage-rattler”.

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