What Does The Future Hold For Property Portals?

online only estate agents

Blog Christopher May, Founder and Director of Residential People

The market-leading portals for the last few years have been accused of taking food from the agents’ table. They’re further tightening their grasp on the agents by taking ownership of wider markets such as insurance, utility switching platforms and more commonly CRM systems. It’s no wonder why agents are feeling suffocated and are desperately fighting to take back control.

One message that has been clear from the community (and in particular the focus groups I follow) is that the industry, as well as the agents, do not want portals that don’t support them.

A certain market leader recently received massive backlash in how it offered help when the COVID-19 pandemic first affected the property sector. The help they offered was to defer payments, this approach was arrogant and further showed the lack of empathy and care for the agent who are the lifeblood of their business.

Without agents, portals would not exist. Ultimately, this is the cold hard truth that every portal needs to embrace. If customers are looking for a property, they will go to multiple sites, as this is the biggest purchase they are likely to make. However, consumers will not return if there is a lack of choice.

I firmly believe that portals, even more so now, need to adapt and advance their offerings to provide real value as more and more agents are feeling like they’re being taken advantage of.  If the growing wave of agents continue to leave these portals, I can see their share prices taking an unbelievable hit and many already have.

Portals also need to keep the consumer as part of any core strategy. Nowadays, there are a plethora of tools that help consumers find mortgages, insurance and other services. The market is moving towards a trend of making the user journey as easy as possible and this has been shown through lifestyle apps, automation tools and online-only automated advisor websites.

Essentially portals and agents should be working together, not against each other, to improve the customer journey. The success of the property industry is interlinked with one another, so we need to stop pitching portal vs agent vs broker. Instead of charging subscriptions and creating paywalls, portals must begin to think outside the box and more importantly stop earning off the agent’s data.

Portals should be focused on improving the homebuyer’s experience easier and more tailored to their needs. They should be asking themselves how can they make home moving easier; what aspects of the user experience can be made easier; what services can be interlinked and surfaced earlier, saving the homebuyer their precious time and helping the agent with their bottom line.

There is a huge opportunity for portals to encompass a whole lot more than just listing properties, that will bring huge benefits to agents and consumers alike.

Christopher May, Founder and Director of Residential People

Christopher May, Founder and Director of Residential People

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