How is the high street coping with online agents?

When I opened my own full service ‘online’ agency 6 years ago, I knew that there was an opening for something different. My opinion was somewhere in between the fully optimistic “the high street is dead” and the traditional “sellers want local offices” as I believed that there was room for both, in various forms, and the strong of each would survive and the weak, including some high street agents, would fall.

Fast forward to 2018 and I thought it would be interesting to run through the type of meetings I have been having, as an agency consultant, since January 1st.

There’s no doubt about it, the hybrid estate agency model, particularly Purple Bricks, has changed the market forever. If the average vendor calls three agents in at market appraisal stage, until recently, an online agent would have to fight to be the fourth phone call; now they’re one of the three. This, in turn, means 33% less market appraisals for the high street – in theory. What are the high street agents doin about it?

One of my clients has employed me to specifically analyse what, how and where these MA’s are going, to who and what can be done about it. What are the USP’s being bragged about when my client, a medium independent, sees another Purple Bricks board go up? We’re not only looking at reducing loss directly but also ensuring that the agent remains one of the strongest on the high street, thus reducing the impact of the ‘33% drop’.

Another client in the North East is looking at launching their own ‘online’ version of their brand, with local property experts working in a similar way to the hybrid model it under a local brand and trusted business. This, in theory, will offer vendors comfort of an established team but the advantages of having a round-the-clock rep, not clocking off at 5pm and rivalling the USP’s of the hybrid agents.

Whether large, small, new or old what I have found interesting is the different approaches the high street agents are taking to wrestle back some business and keep relative to their market.

It’s going to be an interesting few years, with many changes, closures, start ups and challenges and one thing is for certain – online agents have altered the landscape, how will the high street cope?

Written by Richard Nicholls –

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