Is there a future to high street shops / estate agency?

Firstly I really despise negative press and the scare mongering so I wish to make it clear that my preference, and there is no reason why not, is that we go back to more or less as we were before covid-19 disrupted our lives. High streets are great in that not only are they a major platform for businesses, we as humans enjoy to visit them and browse with or without agendas. High street estate agency I am a fan of and I wish that nothing changes that for the foreseeable future… But:

Towns and cities across the UK have been silenced and shops / outlets / offices closed. Slowly many are coming back to life though many remain either closed or with very limited footfall. This spans from restaurants to charity stores, from boutique clothing stores to estate agencies.

What is the solution?

Of course it is to rid covid-19 from our lives altogether and the all clear siren sounds to get people back to work and back to normality, though many question if this is ever to be again?

Many industries have suffered though some has prospered. Who had ever heard of  Zoom online meetings prior to covid-19! Many companies I know have done very well since lock-down and these are not face mask themed – The likes of bespoke software, online food orders, wine sales, online training and more have seen increase in demand. Some companies have also innovated themselves and whereas a part of their business was closed they opened up another to prosper.

Many people are working from home now having either been requested to do so by companies or have decided to go it alone following redundancy / losing their jobs. We are in fact seeing property with outbuildings, spare bedrooms and those which are out from the city increase in demand. No longer is it vitally important to be close to transport to the city of your work, you can beat the premium (ie London waiting) of paying for a property near to the tube / train and opt for a better lifestyle in the countryside / by the sea where greater value for money can be achieved.

Speaking to one estate agent who lives next to me, he says that ‘the biggest recent keyword demand is for outside space and for garden rooms‘ and that ‘certainly an increase of enquiries from buyers / tenants within central London‘ can be seen.

Can Estate Agencies survive in a virtual world?

An interesting question and one which was very much a topic of conversation long before covid-19. Online / hybrid estate agency is about today from Yopa to Purplebrick, certainly get their names known to consumers even if it is costing them a packet to do so. Certainly high street estate agency remains firm and holding its own, but can the online competition grow in numbers?

The possibilities for running an agency online is growing from virtual online viewings to management software for tenants. A telephone and internet connection along with a decent mobile phone is the tools you need to be an estate agent today? Add the Rightmove channel and Zoopla / Onthemarket then you also have the shop window you need that can be enhanced with social media and SEO marketing.

I hear that some people working from home have been told that things may not change until at least January 2021? This will be music to some employee ears though to others it will be a continued burden. I love working from home myself these days, though I would say that a few years back when I was working as an engineer it would not be the same and I would be missing my work colleagues and office environment. Many though support a back to work sooner than later process, ending of the furlough scheme will aid this though also will see higher numbers hitting the unemployment figures.

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Christopher Walkey

Founder of Estate Agent Networking and an internationally invited speaker on how to build online target audiences using Twitter and LinkedIn. Writes about UK property prices, housing and affordable homes.

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