Online Estate Agents revealing nearly all…

Lots of news in the air towards Online Estate Agents and many new names are entering the industry. Are they rivaling traditional estate agency or are they simply adding a new dimension to how people buy/sell/rent property in the UK?

We contacted a selection of Online Estate Agency concepts via Twitter and asked them some questions in order for them to spill the beans… Which ever opinion you have, we hope that the following questions and answers gives an insight in to their thoughts and where they currently are in growing the trend that is ‘online estate agency‘.

eMoov answers are in Black.

Turtle Homes answers are in Green

Tepilo answers are in Red

 

Online Estate Agents, especially from within the industry, gets a fair bit of stick – Why?

The OEA sector gets a fair bit of stick now but, funnily enough, only relatively recently. The old Gandhi quote applies here in that ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you. Then you win’.

In the last 12 months the sector has achieved significant traction in listing terms, investment and coverage in the press. Anything that is a threat to the status quo of an industry is bound to be rounded on once it’s getting cut through. Black cab drivers hate Uber; the Blockbuster CEO derided Netflix (and then famously lived to regret that naivety).

Businesses like eMoov are a threat to the cosiness of the incumbents and they were always bound to fight back. Interesting to me though is that rather than fight back by getting better in order to match our service and performance, they simply try to contend that we ‘aren’t very good’. A rather flimsy and ineffective approach really.

High Street Estate Agents are threatened by the Online Estate Agents fees. Due to the high costs of running a High Street Agency it makes it impossible for them to compete with Online Estate Agents fees, although the service that they offer is no better.
High Street Estate Agents spread the word that if you pay an upfront fee, the agent you are using isn’t going to put the same level of effort into the marketing and sale progression. This is not true, as any business will know, client feedback, reviews and word of mouth go a long way, at Turtle Homes most of our business comes from good reviews and recommendations. The quality of our service is the most important facet of our business.

I think that because the estate agency industry is so long established, and many high-street estate agents are family-run businesses dating many generations back, that a new approach to the service can be immediately viewed as the ‘wrong’ way by these people. When something’s been done for such a long time it becomes a ‘tradition’ almost, and the people who have lived and breathed this every day for so long are going to be taken back by such a modern, digital approach.

Online Estate Agent & Traditional Estate Agent. Both are online, both have websites so what is that all important difference?

The ‘online’ label is a misnomer. All agents are online now and some even have websites of their own 😉 I suppose we should be called ‘value for money fixed fee estate agents without an expensive and cumbersome branch network’. But that’s a bit of a mouthful.

As I said at the Property Future conference, the dynamic now is not ‘online vs high st’ but rather ‘Who is the best agent?’ Technology is an important part of what we do at eMoov as it empowers the customer, provides transparency and lowers administrative costs however it is NOT the only or even the primary consideration, in my opinion. Better communication with customers; overall service and experience; sale performance; price achieved and fee value and justification…. these are all vital and, whilst it will be unpalatable for our competitors to accept publicly, we are leading the industry on those aspects.

The main difference is the cost! The cost of using an Online Estate Agent is substantially lower; the average vendor will save around £4000 in estate agency fees when using an online estate agent.
Traditional Estate Agents operate from expensive High Street premises, whereas online agents from more economical offices which cover the whole of the UK rather than a specific geographical area/suburb. So if you employ a traditional estate agent, a large proportion of your fee is going towards their high overheads, which do not necessarily increase a vendor’s chance of selling.

There’s a big difference between a website that advertises the services and a website which actually homes and carries out the services. The great thing about Tepilo and other online agents alike, is that we’re a blend of skilled and experienced real agents, with a great website.. and when these are put together, it makes the service faster, easier, cheaper and more transparent.

Will someone selling/buying/renting a property via an Online Estate Agent receive a less personal service?

Personal service, in reality, is no longer a face to face must. Rightmove state that the vast majority of sellers and buyers do not visit an estate agent’s office and so therefore how can an argument be extended that the high st office is important to personal service. A misleading contention argued by the online sector’s critics is that ‘online agents leave the seller to fend for themselves’ and ‘do not deal with negotiations and sales progression’. Well, newsflash, at eMoov HALF of our entire Brentwood office staff are dedicated JUST to negotiating offers, tying up sales and sales progressing all the way to completion. That’s why we’re the 5th best agent in the UK of 25,000 according to AllAgents.co.uk. Have a look at our page there and you’ll see how we work from our customers’ perspective. We do it all.

It depends on which Online Estate Agent that you use. Some of the companies are very large, with lots of staff, great for the company but not necessarily for the client. At Turtle Homes Online Estate Agents we offer a personal service, we do not meet the client but they have the comfort in knowing that they will be dealing with the same staff member from start to finish/completion, something that not many (including Traditional Agents) can offer. An advantage of using an online agent is that as the staff are office based, you can always get hold of us when you want. Traditional agents spend most of the day outside of the office, so you are often relying on call backs from them.

Not at all! Our team are on-hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are available to assist with any query big or small. We also progress each sale and liaise with all of our vendors regularly. However, if a vendor is confident in taking the reins of the sale themselves, they don’t need to speak with us every day if they don’t want to! Our customers can tailor make their experience and manage their sale how they wish.

We live much of our lives online these days, will people adapt more to Online Estate Agency for their property needs?

They are. Listings and inventory attributed to online agents is rising rapidly. It’s the ‘Amazonification’ of the property industry and it’s consumer led. No one can stop it.

There is a lot of talk about Online Estate Agents online having a small percentage of the market share, something High Street Estate Agents like to pride themselves in. However, this figure has grown from zero.
The concept is still new to many, but we constantly hear from clients how amazed they are by the process, how simple it is and then at the end they have the nice bonus of knowing they have saved thousands. Most importantly, how they are going to tell their friends and family about it. The word is spreading and it is a market that will only grow, much in the same way as Travel Agents and Banking.
The huge current investment in online estate agents from the City is testament to this.

Most definitely. I can’t speak for all online agents, but we’re growing at lightening speed, and even month by month more and more people are joining us and loving our service. We are well on track to exceed our aim of a £10 million turnover in 2016, which equates to millions of pounds worth of fees saved by our brilliant customers. People recognise that they need to be online for their property to be seen, and are learning that we offer all of the services and more that ‘traditional’ agents do, but without the shop front, we can save them thousands in fees. People are learning not to be scared by the word ‘online’, because that’s all it is – a word.

How long will it take to show figures that impress the industry and confirm that Online Estate Agency is making a strong entrenchment within ‘Estate Agency’ or do you have those figures already and if you do then please share this positive news!?

I suspect that when it comes to impressing the industry, even once we’re at 50% market share they’ll still find a way to deny progress. That will happen by 2020.

I think that online estate agents will be considered by the majority of vendors in the next five years. The huge influx of investment will help spread the word, and vendors will be aware of the savings that they can make.

If you could offer a sentence of advice to today’s consumers who are looking to economise on their Estate Agency costs what would it be?

Online agents are as good, if not better than high street firms to whom you are simply paying for their overheads. Save thousands and use one of the good online agents but do check their performance to ensure they are the best.

The average house move costs £10,000 at the moment, so shop around at all stages of your move as savings can be made with estate agency, solicitors and removal fees. Read our guide on “How to save money when moving home” for starters!

 

A Big thank you to the above three companies who answered the questions for us including Sarah Beeny, Russell Quirk and Laura Woodbury-Smith:

eMoov website: www.emoov.co.uk

Turtle Homes website: www.turtlehomes.co.uk

Tepilo website: www.tepilo.com

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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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