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What’s in store for Online / Hybrid Estate Agents in 2019?

We must certainly admit that 2018 was a roller coaster ride for the online / hybrid estate agency world and ultimately the Mike Tyson vs Evander Holyfield showdown against traditional high street agencies never really materialised.

Just under 10% of new instructions in 2018 went to online estate agents (still a great achievement) with a selling success rate of about 50%. Purplebricks were reported to have seen a 20% increase in activity within the UK market for 2018 despite the market being a little bit challenging with Brexit looming.

Emoov certainly takes the top spot for headlines with successful funding rounds on Crowdcube bringing in promised £millions and of course the £100 million merger with Tepilo (and Urban.co.uk) earlier in the year. Back in 2015 Emoov secured £2.62 million on Crowdcube along with another successful round in July 2018 of £1.84 million. Of course this was all in vain as Emoov went in to administration in early December 2018!

#PropTech and crowd funding interest continues to support the advancement of online estate agency with several positive news stories such as Doorsteps.co.uk £1 million raise on CrowdCube and Moove.ie’s raise securing €200,000. There will sure be, despite the damage to confidence made by Emoov and Crowdcube, continued attempts to raise finance by both established and start up online/hybrid estate agencies. Will though Emoov’s failure and their clients being left out of pocket make future users of online estate agents think twice – There will still surely be negative PR/headlines re Emoov in 2019 due to the situation of previous investors threatening to take legal action.

The current property climate must also be seriously looked at especially as recent news is mostly negative and certainly prices within the southern part of the UK and particularly London show reductions. Brexit is also around the corner and whether it is a ‘leave the EU‘ as voted for in 2016 or a ‘Brexit in name only‘ or ‘putting the vote to leave or remain out again‘ there is surely some disruption to be absorbed by the UK housing market. A Leave decision will likely have a negative hit on UK house prices (due in part to reducing legal and illegal immigration figures), eagerly waited on by much of the population as prices have hiked up too much in recent years, and may cause a further stand off between buyers and sellers – Who wants to be buying at the top end of the market when prices look mostly likely to fall or stagnate over increasing?

A slower property market will likely make consumers choose to opt for commission upon completion over paying any up front fees as property is less likely to sell at any price and more likely to require harder marketing skills and negations which of course favours the high street estate agent over online only options.

We are likely to see a continued #PropTech trend moving forwards in 2019 trying to further facilitate and speed up elements of the UK property industry and for sure more collaborations / mergers / buy outs will be seen which would more likely see benefits to online estate agents over traditional high street. The subject of #PropTech is also much better understood and embraced and 2019 will most likely clear up the sector further narrowing down this sector from several thousand companies floating about to possible under one thousand – Many will give opportunity to estate agents, high street or online, to reduce costs / staffing and streamlining their businesses possible bringing many to a level where they will be seen as part traditional high street and part online/hybrid.

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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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