I can’t remember a time when there were so many changes in the property industry. Forget Brexit and interest rates, the metamorphosis stems from the within the industry itself.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say many agents are feeling threatened – not only from their peers five doors up the High Street, but from competitors who are solely online, working in the unassuming office at the quiet end of town and operating out of coffee shops.
While some agents close offices, merge, rebrand or rationalise operations, the talk of the town is really the hybrid agency.
I’m talking about the agents who say ‘we’re not on the high street but we do have an office, nor are we 100% online but we cut out masses of unnecessary red tape.’
There are many new hybrids entering into sales and lettings – such as Proper Local – threatening to take a share of the already overcrowded market.
Then there’s Martin & Co, which has recently thrown its hat into the hybrid ring by buying up EweMove.
Emphasis is going to be on online marketing backed up by local experts on the ground – a halfway house between purely a High Street presence and an exclusively online proposition.
For a long time, estate agency was a one-horse race, with High Street agents holding court. The rise of online agencies, which have gained traction in the last 12 months, has made it a proper dual to the next instruction.
But even the likes of Purplebricks and Tepilo will be worried with industry heavyweights declaring their hybrid intentions.
Over the coming months and years, agents will increasingly be left behind and 'archived' by consumers as the property industry evolves.
Will 30 years of experience and a shiny High Street office be enough to justify high fees, and see off online or hybrid rivals?
Will more offices and brands sink without a trace because they have been eclipsed by smarter, newer agents who deliver on their promises for a cheaper fee?
It begs the question: just how many agents have the time, right now, to work on a new business model to take them through the next five to ten years?
What every agency needs is a director or partner who steps away from front line business, stops looking at staff performance and monthly figures, and actually performs a good old fashioned SWAT analysis on the changing face of estate agency and lettings.
It’s all about devoting time to the future and keeping pace before the competition pulls into the distance.
*Simon Duce is managing director of the ARPM Group, which provides national outsourced lettings support