Why has Upad gone down?
15 October 2019 7412 Views
Upad, the national online letting agent set up by entrepreneur James Davis has announced that it is “closed to new business” after an announcement on their website.
Although we can only speculate at this stage as to the reasons of their business closure this will inevitably raise questions as to whether online agents are a successful alternative to the high street agent.
The issue is that online and traditional agents are on opposite ends of the scale. One represents convenience and value, while the other represents a high quality of service and expertise.
The answer to both sectors is to come together and embrace the benefits of their counterparts, instead of bickering over who’s best, or worrying that they’re diluting their core values.
The whole point of a ‘hybrid’ model is to cross the best parts of two different systems and produce one harmonious system which is more effective.
Let’s use the analogy of a hybrid vehicle. It’s the synergy of a rechargeable battery and fuel powered system, to bring the best of both worlds.
In the property industry, it aims to bring together the best of online and traditional estate agency in a seamless fashion. For some however, the idea of online agencies such as Purple Bricks, Yopa and Emoov is something to be feared and seen as an industry disruptor, representing the possible extinction of the high street agency.
This belief couldn’t be further from the truth. Online agencies or so-called industry distributors as you may want to call them, shouldn’t lead to the extinction high street agents. In fact, it’s the opposite - they fuel evolution, and the hybrid model is its transformation.
Traditional high street agencies need to address the technological advance to secure their futures, as the industry embraces the online world.
Before we talk about specifics and what estate agents can do to thrive in both markets, let’s compare the characteristics between the two types of agencies, as each sector delivers a powerful set of tools that shouldn’t be ignored.
The online agent
Online-only agents are typically run via websites and call centres, offering a stripped down service than you’d receive from a high street agent, and as a result, they usually offer lower, fixed fees which is often charged upfront via a shopping cart facility.
They can be seen as a “self-service” platform where most of the legwork would be done by the seller/landlord, from creating their advert and taking photos, to managing enquiries, conducting viewings and negotiating offers.
Evolution of the hybrid agent
Many online-only agents have now evolved into hybrid agencies, offering an online shopping experience with ad-hoc services (purchased as extras) offered by “local experts on the field” to handle buyer/tenant enquiries, accompany viewings, and negotiate offers.
This synergy is what has sent shockwaves through the market. Hybrid agencies are offering the price benefits and flexible packages of the online agent, while treading in the same territory as high street agents.
High street agents, the local property experts
It’s questionable whether the online agent’s field operatives that are often seen as a “salesman” can compete with the expertise, reputation and experience of high street agents.
For this reason, there will always be a position for the high street agent in the 21st century property marketplace. Plus the fact that landlords and sellers stretched for time would prefer instructing a high street agent to do the legwork, and in turn, enable them to lean on the advice, customer service and expertise of an agent on their doorstep.
The dual marketplace
Despite having compelling evidence that online agents have created an effective proposition by offering the best of both worlds, many estate agents are digging their heels in deep, and reluctant to make the changes necessary to compete in this divided marketplace.
TwentyCi’s Q2 2019 report highlights that the market share of online agents remain consistent at the 7% mark. This is a 2% increase from 5% of the overall market reported in Q2 2017.
Overall market share % of online vs high street agents. Data from TwentyCi - online agent market share Q2 2017 at 5%, Q2 2018 at 8% and Q2 2019 at 7%.
The key is to tap into both markets
While high street agents jostle to win back 1% of the market share from 2018 to 2019, this is evidence of a divided marketplace based on consumer preference and if you look at the trend, it’s only going to divide further.
The key for high street agents to move forward and tap into both markets is to get with the times and embrace the hybrid tools.
Advertising on portals such as Rightmove, and having a website, even fully loaded with all the features such as virtual property tours, map search, a fancy slideshow is now the norm and simply “expected”.
Consumers’ expectations have now changed, and the gap between a service and online shopping experience has now been bridged.
High street agents can do two things. Firstly, use proptech to maximise their efficiency. Where possible, automate daily tasks, customer communications, so they can focus on bringing new business through the door and have more face-to-face time for negotiating deals.
Secondly, embrace hybrid tools. This does not mean giving up any of what agents already do. It’s tweaking their model by tapping into the digital buying and selling platform.
Don’t be disrupted and diminish, evolve.
At Gnomen, we offer a unique platform, out of the box, that enables a traditional agent to thrive and tap into the online marketplace.
Our Hybrid platform should be seen as complementary to your current service offerings, and you have the choice to embrace as much or as little of the hybrid model as you wish.
Whether it’s to enable an e-commerce payment gateway similar to what’s used by online agents, or simply to ramp up your productivity, automation, and expand the areas that you service.
Our hybrid menu is laid out. You can cherry pick the parts that fit your workflow. Or go all out, that’s up to you.
Estate agents can become an ally to both frontiers instead of fighting against them. Combining both services, new and traditional ensures that our high street agencies have a bright future ahead.
Find out about how our hybrid platform can work for your business, or see what we’ve done for other agencies.
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