BREAKING NEWS – 5 top stories 04/01/2021
WILL THERE BE A SECOND LOCKDOWN FOR ESTATE AGENTS?
Having watched Boris do battle with Andrew Marr on Sunday, and the defensive soundbites from the Prime Minister which seemed to say that deeper and wider curtailment of many businesses are likely, could January be a lockdown scenario for some agents?
Kier Starmer is pressuring for an immediate circuit breaker type of policy, and the sad reality is that Covid-19 cases are on the rise. Also of course the general public may also not allow viewings/look to list or let as a personal choice. Tough times in the next few days for sure.
COUNTRYWIDE PLC AND CONNELLS – DEAL OR NO DEAL?
It remains to be seen if the projected sale of Countrywide to Connells will go forward personally I am hopeful for all stakeholders the deal will go through, though like many sales that are preceding at present, a number will fail to get over the line by the 31st of March.
Having worked for Countrywide in its prime, and within the Connells/Sequence fold – if the deal does happen, there will at last be an extremely capable, resolute, focused and forward facing team in the c-suite of the largest agency in the UK, replacing the sad vacuum of talent that Countrywide has recently fielded causing a collective 500M loss over recent years.
Agency is changing and it will be interesting to see how Dinosaur Countrywide – can be modernised in the digital age, where the consumer now demands an Amazon quickness to service and delivery.
ONLY 63-WORKING DAYS TO GET SALES COMPLETED
Agents have a window of only 63-working days to get their sales to completion if the stakeholders are looking to get the right side of the Chancellor’s SDLT holiday cut-off date of 31st March 2021. Factoring in a gap between exchange and completion of either 10 or 20 working days, it means the real target date is to get to exchange is in the next 43 working days.
Many agent’s cashflow is now in the hands of the conveyancing industry; it will be interesting to see how well the ‘the world of fax and paper’ and the use of the postage stamp holds up to the pressing needs of the general public, who after all are the real group who will lose out if they miss the March deadline.
IS THE PANDEMIC PIVOTING THE AGENCY MODEL?
Adoption of new ways to do business often comes due to large scale changes in society. A year ago Zoom in the UK was being used by about 35,000 users, now it has over 1.65M users a day. Why? Businesses needed a way to keep on doing business.
Virtual viewings, the increasing use of augmented reality by new home developers, the stricter streaming of buyers and renters ability to proceed by AI, automation of booking viewings, immediate virtual valuations/market appraisals etc, are now becoming the new ordinary.
Keeping sales teams safe with the front door of many agencies staying shut, or open by strict appointment has made many business owners see the virtue of changing their business models. And also the general public seem very much to want a quicker, better experience when ‘doing property’ so 2021 is likely to see more automation, more efficiencies and for some agents much better profit levels.
Love them or not, Purplebricks last year listed over 1,300 properties every single week in the UK, this tells us that the ‘consumer vendor’ is looking at new ways to do business, agents would do well to start to research the mindsets of potential vendors, rather than assuming that the 2021 vendor has the same gaols as vendor mum and dad did 20 years ago and doing business in the traditional way will be best practice.
ZOOPLA LOOKS TO BUY CONFUSED.COM
ZPG is looking to buy a cluster of comparison sites including Confused.com from the Admiral group. In what will be increasingly seen as a tactical game of chess, 2021 will see all of the property portals looking to get commercial advantage. Though of course really only ZPG and Rightmove, and if they get further funding perhaps Boomin will be on an acquisition trail. As the other contenders lack at present the capital to make major purchases.
I have been predicting for some time that Zoopla will change its model more quickly than most, and certainly having a large comparison site Confused.com and others in its stable together with existing U-switch may well give it critical mass in the titan wars for the hearts and souls of agents that is coming.
If you have a view – please let us all know by emailing me at [email protected] – Andrew Stanton Executive Editor – moving property and proptech forward.