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Online agents 'inferior for contact, know-how and trust' says survey

A survey of over 2,000 people suggests that online estate agents lose out to their traditional counterparts in terms of public perception on the issues of ease of contact, knowledge of the local property market, and trust.

The research, conducted by digital consultancy the BIO agency, reveals that the most prominent reason for not using an onliner was that 27.5 per cent of respondents wanted a person to speak to during the transaction; some 18.3 per cent believed an agency with a local office would have greater knowledge of the area’s housing market, while ‘lack of trust’ was the third reason, cited by 13.5 per cent of respondents. 

Even so, some one in seven of the respondents claimed to have used an online agency in the past - a far higher proportion than many onliners themselves quote when describing the size of the sector, which is generally considered to be around five per cent of sales (or one in 20, rather than one in seven).


From those respondents who had chosen to use an online agent, the three main attractions were greater flexibility - cited by 21.5 per cent - followed by wanting a quick sale (17.4 per cent) and thinking that they themselves could do a better job than a traditional agent at marketing their property through an online platform (15.9 per cent).

The survey, conducted last month and involving 2,034 respondents, produced some an eye-brow raising result when it came to recognition of online agents.

Purplebricks was top with 43.2 per cent of respondents recognising the brand; easyProperty was third with 13.9 per cent. In second place, perhaps surprisingly, was SellMyHome on 18.2 per cent.

“Brand trust is key for some people and that will mean they will stick with traditional agents for now. But it’s only a matter of time before Purplebricks et al begin to build brand reputation through massive marketing spend and social media recommendations” claims BIO’s chief strategy officer, Justin Small.

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    Hmm can't help but think this will start to be trotted out as 'fact' by some in advertising/press releases:

    'one in seven of the respondents claimed to have used an online agency in the past'

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    One in seven have used an online agency but how many have actually sold a property through an online agency?

  • Kristjan Byfield

    Doesnt this cement what we all knew already- hands on sellers & landlords can save money by doing more themselves and taking morte risk on themsleves by using an online agent. Otherwise, people can continue to use more traditional agents and get a more comprehensive service for a higher fee. Not exactly earth-shattering.
    I am still oooking forward to the article that tackles the issue of profitability within the online agent sector as so many are showing little if any profit with the likes of PB recording losses in the millions. Once the millins raised through selling shares has been spent, there will be a lot of angry investors wondering where their money has gone.


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