Will it be Amazon Estate Agents soon?
This is not a news flash that Amazon has formerly started up a chain of estate agents in the UK, more thoughts that with the demise of Debenhams, and its purchase by Boohoo, but without the physical stores, has buying and selling now entered a new phase for good? And where does that leave estate agency?
Online sales went up from 20% of the total UK marketplace in 2019 to 31% by the end of 2020, and for sure Lockdown and the pandemic are part of this, but we can not ignore that year on year growth of online purchasing will probably never stop.
I asked my co-director her thoughts about what modern agency is, and in between barking out of the window at the new neighbours who are moving in – thank goodness – she said that many thought online agents were the future.
But in her opinion maybe an e-commerce platform like Amazon is the real online model, not stripping out the traditional agency model, making it people lite and letting the public do the heavy lifting.
As she pauses looking out of the window, the cat is now hiding in the bushes across the road, Zara adds, ‘Amazon is simple, you digitally browse, Amazon pushes you towards the goods, you pay and next day I go nutty when the delivery man arrives with a cardboard box full of goodies. Minimal or zero-human contact from the seller, quick easy and repeatable process.’
I try to explain that buying a home is different, moving the title from one party to the other, financing the deal, etc. Zara’s comeback before she leaves the home office in search of a more stimulating conversation is, ‘with artificial intelligence, and machine learning, the whole of the residential agency ecosystem could be put on digital roller skates tomorrow.’
Sometimes I hate smart dogs, but it got me thinking, why does it take 28 weeks for a property to go through the sales cycle, when you can physically build one in less time, in pre-pandemic days?
And if anyone says agency is a people business, so too for well over a century was Debenhams. Perhaps, they would have done well to have had Zara as a NED given them advice to de-risk their future.
If you have a view – please let us all know by emailing me at [email protected] – Andrew Stanton Executive Editor – moving property and proptech forward.