One of the founding figures behind OnTheMarket, which currently bans listings from online agencies, now says bricks and mortar agencies that offer online-only options to sellers offer “the best of all worlds.”
Ed Mead - a London estate agent for over 35 years, most of them in high-profile positions at Douglas and Gordon, where he remains a shareholder and non-executive board member - has told Estate Agent Today: “The online sector has spent tens of millions of pounds on TV advertising so the public now know they have a choice. Many of this new breed have excellent communications platforms helping inform buyers and sellers what's going on.”
He then adds: “What they lack, despite advertising to the contrary, is the expert local knowledge a local, or experienced, agent can genuinely bring.”
Countrywide is the most prominent of a number of high street agencies developing a stand-alone option for sellers to buy a fixed-fee online-only service if they wish, but to have the option to ‘upgrade’ to a full-service traditional if the customer wishes.
Although Mead does not mention Countrywide by name, he backs the idea - the first prominent figure from the previously anti-online OnTheMarket hierarchy to do so.
“If you want a do-it-yourself offering that's fine, but make sure if you get out of your depth you can upgrade to an offering that can genuinely help you” he says.
Speaking of the latest firm to go down this road - Humberts, which today has launched an online-only lettings option for landlords - Mead adds: “Companies like Humberts can, via a direct offering, give you the best of all worlds.”
Since leaving full-time agency a year ago Mead has been a co-founder of the successful Viewber service, which handles outsourced viewings for online and high street agencies. OnTheMarket proposes accepting online agencies as members if it floats on the stock market following a vote amongst its current membership.