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Will your agency be ‘archived’ by consumers who choose hybrid?

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 

  • Terence Dicks

    Why have you got it firmly entrenched in your head that high street agents are not only scared of online agents, but they are not ready to ride out the next five to ten years Simon Duce?? Your article is condescending and ill informed.The cheap fees asked for by most online agents are not cheap when the level of service offered is non-existent. I reckon we could make money from our high street office by charging £700.00 to sell our clients property without doing anything to earn it (and take their money regardless of whether we sell the property or not). We would have one problem though, and that is that we would not need to keep begging for money from poorly advised investors to keep a completely unworkable business model afloat. It is slightly galling that you rate online agents so highly when they cannot make their business model work. I would be pleased if there is just ONE online agent who is able to make their business model work and turn a profit. You know, actually generate enough income to run their business. It will be interesting to see how the online agents cope as the market hardens, and trust me, it will. As for delivering on promises, how about promises made to the people who keep investing in something that is NOT making a profit, or is that not the same?? Eventually, I suppose investors will get fed up with empty promises and fudged figures in place of financial returns, and where will the online agents be then??

  • Nichola Taylor Cockayne

    So, from what I gather, 'hybrid agencies' is just the latest buzz word for a complicated and many tiered service.

    That is, to have a paperless do-it-yourself model with photos and online advertising done by the agent, to be able to add in 'extras' like signs and accompanied viewings, to have an up-front payment and a no-sale-no-fee payment option instead, and also to have the option to go all in where the agent does everything included in one price.

    So essentially, it just gives customers more choice and complicates a service that should be super-simple, while hiding behind fancy jargon like 'hybrid' and claiming to save vendors thousands of pounds in fees... Aren't all Estate Agents 'hybrids' then?

    Besides that, what rock do journalists live under when it comes to selling houses outside of London? How many agents do you know charge enough that certain online agents can claim to save vendors 3k-5k in fees?

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    Most of us High Street agents thought about launching a Hybrid service 3 years ago. The problem is you can't differentiate the services and the fees you charge to make it work. I'm not closing my doors anytime soon. I say again to Purple Bricks and whoever else, be it online or Hybrid..... You can't make money and pay back your investors charging a nett fee of £500.00 to sell a house. End of. You're pockets simply aren't deep enough to take us on and wipe us off the High Street. What you succeeded in doing is untold damage to the business model and the industry and are solely responsible for putting thousands of people out of work with your greed fuelled ambition and flawed business model.

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