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The Big Debate: Online versus Traditional Agency - we want your questions

One of the industry debates of the year will be held next week when the inaugural FUTURE : Property Tech conference includes a not-to-be-missed session entitled Online Agents vs Traditional Agents - “Who Really Is Best For The Customer?!”

It's a debate that has been hot on industry websites and on social media for well over a year as online agents have attempted to make inroads into sales and lettings.

Now there is a unique offer to Estate Agent Today readers to have their say by submitting questions to the session's high-profile panel - Alex Bailes (chief digital officer at Countrywide), Russell Quirk (eMoov chief executive), and Michael Bruce (Purplebricks chief executive). It will be moderated by Paula Higgins, chief executive of the consumer group, HomeOwners Alliance.

Do you have a question for any or all of these?

For example, is Countrywide going to come clean about its much-rumoured online agency launch - which some in the industry tip will happen next year?

How can eMoov seriously value itself at £20m, as it has recently, when it has yet to turn a profit?

Can Purplebricks genuinely claim to offer a service as good as traditional high street agents which have been operating with local contacts for years or even decades? 

The organisers of this session want EAT readers to put the panel on the spot.

Please leave your questions in the Comments section below this news story - we promise that however tough the questions, they will be put to the panel.

The one-day conference will feature more than 200 attendees and over 30 expert speakers. 

Brandon Lewis will address delegates on how the government plans to leverage technology to improve the property sector and will also take part in a Q&A following his keynote address.

Other featured speakers will include Rajeev Nayyar of Fixflo, Mary Criebardis of PiLabs, JLL’s James Brown as well as speakers from the Property Redress Scheme plus high-end agencies including Savills, Cushman Wakefield and CBRE. 

The event will be hosted by Vanessa Warwick & Nick Tadd of Property Tribes and the organiser is Gary Chimwa of Met Events.

There is still a 20 per cent discount available on a strictly limited number of tickets for Estate Agent Today readers using Discount Code EAT20. You can register for tickets directly from the website here www.propertytech.co.

  • Steven Thompson

    Do people think that the future of estate agency is a hybrid of the two approaches? I can see a non-too-distant future where local online agencies rule. A lower cost base married with local expertise can only be better than both Traditional and the current online offerings. A match of the local agents local knowledge and an online marketing expert are the ideal profile for estate agency owners from here on. Add into this your clients local reach through social media and you have a winning formula.

  • Simon shinerock

    My questions are these. What is to stop traditional agents offering an online only entry option to those who want it? Do you really think price will be the biggest driver of business, if so why? What do you say to those who point out we already have the lowest estate agency fees in the developed world? Have you calculated the real savings to be had by cutting out the high street? If so by how much do they reduce operating costs? Do you see a threat from traditional agents adopting a multi listing approach at a minimum fee level that will shut out cheap online services? Do you think that long term the high street will simply merge with online with the best agents offering all the benefits of central services and a local presence?

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    Why are online agents seemingly better at PR and media than their traditional counterparts?

    Richard White

    Because they have to be. Otherwise they'll still be squabbling over a tiny share of the market in another decade.

     
  • Michael Gerasimov

    I don't believe purely 'offline' agents exist today. And there is definitely no conflict between the 'online' and the 'offline' crowd. Each company aspiring to a modern status is at least to some extent represented on the internet. Only those who don't want to compete (or just plain incompetent) would disregard the medium completely. Another point is there's a great variety of online property 'agents' - from huge international brokers to small local firms - each offering a unique package of specialities and services, and targeting their own unique market. Some of them (like huge international platforms, tranio.com, for instance) are 100% internet-based companies. Smaller local traders choose to operate in a hybrid way, combining face-to-face and online (asynchronous) modes of doing business. Those two are perfectly complementary and the prevalence of one mode is a matter of functional specificity and convenience.

  • Jonathan Rolande

    Aren’t items like Rightmove, OTM, Zoopla and decent staff the main cost of a High St agent? High St office rents in most areas are now comparable with decent out of town blocks so really, other than volume (being able to take on a property anywhere), where are the cost savings by being purely online?

  • Terence Dicks

    Our fees in Birmingham are quite low, certainly nowhere close to the fees ALL the online "agents" claim to be able to save their clients.
    Why must they use city fees to sell their so-called service, when it is not a true representation of most of the country??

  • Jon  Tarrey

    Many of these online agencies say they offer a 24 hour service. Can this really be the case? If, say, I rang up at 2am with a burning question, would someone be on hand to answer me? And, more to the point, do we really need an estate agent that is 24/7? Surely it can wait until the morning.

  • Rob  Davies

    Are the Purplebricks adverts supposed to be funny? Because they just come across as irritating and try-hard. What were the main goals of the advertising campaign? To be fair, they certainly stand out, but that has more to do with the colourful purple branding than the content.

  • Michael Gerasimov

    I'd still vote for online marketplaces targeted at better informed buyers.. I believe Zoopla and Tranio will eventually replace the importunate crowd of 'physical' agents, no matter how much some of us may hate the brave new digital world )) The fact is there's nothing 'traditional' agents can do that can't be done online and at least as efficiently.. Cost saving is not the issue, by the way. It's more about cost effectiveness and unquestionable competitive advantages associated with access to incomparably and increasingly larger clientele.

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    Firstly all modern estate agents are on line. The main driver for a seller to use online agents is to reduce costs, so its no coincidence this is were all of the online agents aim their marketing perhaps indicating that traditional agent have been over charging all along, what better way of ingratiating your self to a nation of people who traditionally love to hate estate agents . The only way to reduce costs is by cutting out the sales person/problem solver/locally experienced estate agent, and of course newspaper type advertisements. how does this help the buyer or the seller improve their property transaction? and. How can they make a profit at £499.99 flat fee? often payable in advance. are the public really that stupid! and can you really call an online agent an estate agent? I suspect the best the public could expect is a disinterested ex mobile phone sales person, who is no longer performance driven. am sure their eager to go the extra mile.

  • icon

    Firstly all modern estate agents are on line. The main driver for a seller to use online agents is to reduce costs, so its no coincidence this is were all of the online agents aim their marketing perhaps indicating that traditional agent have been over charging all along, what better way of ingratiating your self to a nation of people who traditionally love to hate estate agents . The only way to reduce costs is by cutting out the sales person/problem solver/locally experienced estate agent, and of course newspaper type advertisements. how does this help the buyer or the seller improve their property transaction? and. How can they make a profit at £499.99 flat fee? often payable in advance. are the public really that stupid! and can you really call an online agent an estate agent? I suspect the best the public could expect is a disinterested ex mobile phone sales person, who is no longer performance driven. am sure their eager to go the extra mile.

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    I liken the online agent to a pair of ill fitting jeans that I purchased online some time ago. The jeans in question were of course worryingly cheaper but never the less I thought I would give them a try, ignoring my better judgement. My only hope now for getting the jeans to fit is to cut 5 inches of my legs and loose 4 inches around my waist, which will make all my other clothes ill fitting. I still have the jeans as a reminder of my foolish price driven decision. Hold your nerve grown up sensible estate agents. its only a matter of time before the world realises again the two worthy and seemingly forgotten adages. You get what you pay for. and. Square pegs for square holes. I value myself enough to ware jeans that don't make me look like a complete twit, and I value my home enough not to use cheapest and often the most ineffective agent on the block.

    Michael Gerasimov

    I wouldn't liken buying property to online shopping for clothes )) These are incomparable in terms of investment and risks, if not for any other reason. Today, the best online property aggregators and brokerage platforms are capable of providing as much information as you may need, including legal advice, drone footage and 3D views; and should you ever require it they can as well organize your 'physical' travel to specific destinations to get a better idea in a more tangible form.

     
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