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Finding a buyer for a property has until very recently at least! been the relatively easy part of the selling process.

Managing an agreed sale through to completion is where the real hard work and skill starts and the true property professionals earn their money.

A recent study suggested that Purple Bricks sales success rate was just 51% whilst another suggested High Street agents sell more than 84% of homes listed with them. Now I am not saying this is definitive, but logic would suggest that low cost online and hybrid agencies charging an upfront fee are not reliant on the sale completing to get paid and are therefore less motivated to really manage the sales process or support their client during the progression phase.

A skill vastly under valued in our industry

Many a time I hear and see within my own agency that high street negotiators are having to pick up the pieces left by online agents involved in property chains to ensure the flow of communication and information to everybody concerned, which can quite often be a number of people, including buyers and sellers, agents and solicitors. It is a skill too often under valued in our industry and before the cynical pipe up “well it is their job or they won’t get paid if the sale doesn’t go through” which is precisely my point about the online agents lack of motivation – the real reason from my 25 years experience in the industry – is most sales progressors are actually local people from the community they serve and shocker! actually really care about their clients and house sale! Online agencies must be laughing all the way to the bank as they sit back and allow others to do their job for them, however this is the trade off for being able to provide a cheaper model.

It is incumbent on High Street Agents to educate the selling public

The key here though is getting the message across to potential house sellers and it is incumbent on traditional high street agents to educate them as to the importance of having highly skilled and extremely experienced operators in their corner and the value this brings not only to, potentially the bottom line and therefore more money in their pocket but also to clients sanity during what otherwise can be a very stressful time.

Remember also in the absence of any perceived difference in service levels, clients will end up choosing their agent purely on price. This is a massive differentiator and huge advantage in high street agents arsenal.

Online & Hybrid agencies have the edge in technology

And ultimately this is where I believe online agency is missing a trick because moving house is a very emotive time. I agree that online and hybrid agency is setting the standard in the use of prop tech in a fast changing world and the ease with which these models fit with many peoples busy modern lifestyles – as highlighted in a recent series of brilliant articles by the prop tech expert, James Dearsley about his selling journey. However, many high street agents now offer online tracking portals for clients, which is essentially what online agents offer – but more importantly, when there is a problem and lets face it there can be many during a sales transaction that on average still takes around twelve weeks from start to finish, there is still a reassuringly friendly face in an office usually not too far away where the seller can go, sit down and chat through their issues/concerns which is still seemingly more attractive than having to e-mail a faceless call centre or perhaps trying to contact their local property expert who is already onto his/her next listing opportunity.

The demarcation line has been drawn in the sand.


Maurice Kilbride

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