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High street agents come out fighting against online threat

Two high street estate agents have used the medium of the local press to come out fighting against the threat of online and hybrid operators.

Writing in the Yorkshire Post, Tim Waring, director of Dacre, Son & Hartley, uses a football analogy to determine the winner in the fight between traditional agents with a high street presence and their online counterparts.

He says that following the news of ZPG's proposed sale and the pending merger between Emoov and Tepilo, many people will be led to think that the property industry is 'on the verge of a digital revolution'.


He then goes on to argue why he doesn't believe this to be the case.

Waring concedes that 'the English subject to contract system is slow and cumbersome' and admits that technology has significantly improved the flow of information, making that '1-0' to online.

Next, he argues that property websites can't value homes accurately, citing 'condition, decor and aspect' as just three of the many variables that can only be assessed in person. Waring says this makes the score '1-1'.

The agent then goes on to conclude that in a battle of traditional versus online, the result comes out in favour of traditional. 

He says this is down to traditional agents' expertise in sales progression, managing chains and expectations - qualities which are worth 'two goals', making the final score 3-1.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Lincolnshire Live, James Drabble, a valuer at JHWalter LLP, says he sees his firm as an online agent.

However, he says the comparison stops at advertising on the top property portals. 

“Statistics show online only agents fail to sell 50 per cent of properties they have listed," he says.

“The online agents’ only way of getting interest in a property is by hoping someone sees it online and gets in contact to view."

“If this doesn’t work, the only option they have to try and generate some interest is to reduce the price and hope it will appeal to more buyers at a lower price."

“Of course, eventually the price will be reduced low enough and it will sell, so you may be saving money on your estate agent fee, however you may risk losing a lot more, by selling your property for thousands of pounds less than it is worth."

Drabble describes his firm as 'proper estate agents', acknowledging the full range of services on offer.

Addressing potential sellers, he adds: “Your property is generally your biggest asset, so we would ask the question why people would want to use a cheap option?”

You can see Tim Waring's piece in full here and the interview with James Drabble here.

  • Property Road

    Firstly, most online agents offer in-person valuations, therefore the 2nd goal scored by traditional agents has been ruled out after a review by VAR.

    Secondly, the referee had a 'mare and missed the fact the online agents DID score another goal, the one on the significant amounts of money they save most sellers on the estate agent fee.

    Both articles are incredibly biased and neither show signs of 'coming out fighting'. 'Coming out fighting' suggests you have a plan for taking on the online agents not just more whining about them.

    The fact is high street agents don't have to lose this battle but they DO have to change. They won't win by just trying to belittle online agents. No one finds that attractive, least of all customers.

  • Chris Arnold

    Like any industry, the capabilities of estate agents range from visionary to clueless.
    Just because the agent is on one side or the other, doesn't make or break them.
    The character and desire to offer something worth talking about, other than fee, ticks that particular box.
    The evidence to date suggests that traditional do have to up their game, but not in order to beat the opposition. In order to earn the privilege of staying in business and working for 'good' clients.


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