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Traditional agents won't disappear completely says Sarah Beeny

TV property expert and online agency owner Sarah Beeny says there will always be some sellers who prefer to use traditional agents - but she insists operations like her own Tepilo offer “far more cost-effective” services.

Beeny’s Tepilo initially launched a free listings website which allowed individual sellers to upload details and photographs; some four years ago it relaunched as an online agency and in early 2016 refined its offer to include ‘pay later’ options in addition to the typical online upfront fees options.

Now, on the Livemoney website, Beeny has been asked how far online estate agency disruption of the traditional model will go. 

“I think it will have a big impact on the market,” she says, “and I think we’ll see more agents operating online only as buyers demand fairer fees, but I don’t think we’ll see all high-street agents completely disappear for a long time yet” she says.

“People buying certain properties – particularly those that are specialist or commercial – often still prefer to buy via traditional agents, so I think they’ll always be a demand for that.

“However, online agents do offer a far more cost-effective and more tech-led service than traditional agents and it’s these factors that are making so many people choose online agents.” 

Last month comparison service GetAgent looked at 500 new listings on Purplebricks and all listings by Tepilo, Housesimple and eMoov from January 2016, following them through for 14 months until February this year. It claimed Tepilo had a 48 per cent completion rate.

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    The investment and rhetotic relating to the online agent issue is reminicent of the Dot Com Bubble and the business model is still yet to be a solid and proven proposition accross all market conditions. Traditional agents are routed in their local comunities and providing they offer good customer service and combine this with the best of available technology then those traditional agents will have the ability to grow develop and grow organically notwithstanding that their advertising budgets are directed mostly towards promoting their vendor clients properties as opposed to the on line agents advertising spent mainly promoting them selves and their share price. The majority of vendors are reluctant to pay moving costs up front. This was amply demonstrated during the Home Information pack era. A proportion of sellers clearly are prepard to take the risk of up front fees to an online only agent during a sellers market, but sooner or later the market will revert to a buyers market and in those market conditions vendors will be far more reluctant to risk up front selling fees. The other aspect too are the so called self employed local property experts, the back bone of the online agent, they in particular are very vulnerable to a change in market conditions and will throw in the towel in droves when the market turns or indeed when the budgets for the high profile national TV and Radio advertising the business model so relys on drys up. It is interesting to note that online agents are aching only a 48% success rate which falls far short of many of the best traditional agents, but Sarah Beeny is correct in that traditional estate agent estate agents are going to be around for a long long time yet.

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