Tue 25 Nov 2014

There is much talk at the moment about so-called Online Estate Agents but we don't know of any local estate agents that are not 'online'.

Whilst being online is a very important part of our business model now, we do not want to see the day when there are no physical estate agency offices.  This was brought home to us very much on Saturday, when we had several people call in to see us and register their requirements.  One couple in particular made a special effort to call in as they knew that we are independent agents and operating in the area they wish to buy, thought it would be good to meet and have a chat.

We believe that you can find out much more about people and their needs from a face-to-face chat - and indeed a great skill of any people based business is being able to listen - something not everyone remembers!  To have the opportunity for an unhurried discussion allowed us to pass on information about the local area and find out in detail what type of property and location would suit the couple in question.   You may say, all that can be done in a phone call, but it really is not the same.  "Putting a face to the name" does help in one of the vital estate agency skills of matching people and property.

Another visitor wanted to update us on his changed requirements due to differing personal circumstances, and whilst we could not help immediately it did give us the opportunity to discuss the finer points of the property now sought.  We then could consider whether we knew of any potential property sellers who might have the right property, resulting in a call to one such property owner we know is thinking of selling in the New Year - and we are going round to have a discussion soon to see if we might be able to match up buyer and seller - possibly without the property in question ever going on the market.  Maybe that would not be so easy for an online only agent?

Online only agents make much of their 24-bour service, but we find that being available outside of normal office hours via telephone (and that is with people who know the area and the properties we are selling - not someone in a call centre), or email or contact via our website is sufficient for most people,   Surely there is a limit as to what could be achieved in the middle of the night?  If someone is awake then and wants to arrange a viewing or property appraisal, then a quick email would result in contact within a few hours, so we consider that it is rather gimmicky to say that you offer a 24-hour service.  All our properties are available to view online at any time, and of course if driving around, then the good old For Sale board is there to be seen all the time.

Another factor that needs to be borne in mind is that many of these online only agents make much of their lower charges - but are they 'no sale, no fee'?  (Please also be aware that price comparisons we have seen frequently refer to percentage commission rates that are unrealistically high!)  Whilst clearly we all want to sell the properties we are instructed to market, but there can be many varied reasons why a property might not be sold in the end.  In those circumstances, we charge no commission fee, but many online only agents charge upfront.   That is a model of estate agency that has been tried many times over the years, and it has not really made much headway before, so it will be interesting to see what happens this time.

We like to think that we have a good blend of old fashioned personal service combined with modern technology, and would love to see YOU in the office to tell you all about how we can help you move.