{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

Our family has spent the last few weeks moving house, and two things became clear to us throughout the whole process – how important the internet is in marketing your property, and what a totally noisome experience it is to deal with most estate agents.  

Although neither conclusion is newsworthy, it got me wondering whether Freakonomics is right and that the current industry model is set for annihilation at the hands of the web…

There are now no less than 17 estate agents clustered around the crossroads at the top of our local high street. They are clearly doing well. Some of them call themselves ‘property consultants’ and look more like nail bars from the outside. But why do they actually exist? Do they actually save you time or effort? Or - to use industry lingo - are they a complete WOFT?

Going purely on how our property was brought to market and priced, we aren't sure how agents add any value any more.

When we started out, we chose three companies - one local, one regional and one London-wide - to value our house and were expecting some disparities. But the differences in their efforts were huge. The range between the lowest and highest was almost a third of the property's eventual value, and one seemed more interested in what we thought it was worth than actually looking at the house and doing some maths.

So if it’s clear that sellers have a large hand in the pricing of properties anyway, why not do it yourself? There is lots of good info on the web to help research house values in specific areas – like property search engines and sites such as Upmystreet and Houseprices.co.uk. Using the net, you could also promote your house or flat pretty effectively. The problem is that the major listings websites don't display properties from individual sellers, only from agents.

One encouraging thing that we surmised from our move was that online performance is now a major differentiator between property companies – at least at face value.

All agents know that the vast majority of housebuyers use the web for research. The ones we spoke to were very keen to show us how many directories and search engines their listings appear on, and how they monitor clickthroughs to gauge interest from buyers. But how well do they actually analyse this traffic and respond to the data? Not very well, it would seem.

We had to point out errors in our listing (i.e. placing the Google Maps pointer in the middle of a busy road around 50m away from the house, not uploading the photos and neglecting to mention other pretty important details), when the agent should have noticed a lack of impressions. It then took its IT team five days to fix them.

This could have been an isolated incident, but it was more than a little annoying – especially when you’re at a disadvantage as a buyer until you make a deal on your own house, and when your agent uses its supposed web marketing skills to justify its charges. It also leads you to question whether you are getting value for money by employing an agent or are better off taking the DIY route.

Considering the costs of employing an agent, the process of selling your house still involves a lot of hassle. You still have to harry it for feedback and keep on top of how it is performing. And although we sold quickly, there was a big void in communication and CRM by the agent we chose.

Nearly all your decisions as a buyer are affected by how your own property is doing on the market, so is some email reporting too much to ask for? Perhaps it is, especially in an industry that relies on providing its customers with as little information as possible.
 
Our internet experiences as buyers were also pretty patchy. Some agents’ sites were clearly highly optimised and usable, but others weren’t.

One of our main gripes was the amount of properties being displayed that were actually under offer or already sold. How is that helpful? Doesn't it encourage gazumping? And although all agents we spoke to used email to provide updates on new houses coming onto the market, we’re yet to have been able to remove ourselves from some of their lists, and none seemed to do any sophisticated targeting.

When it comes to the aggregators and search engines, they are also quite a mixed bag. Findaproperty and Rightmove were the ones we were recommended by most agents, but we didn’t find the former’s search facility particularly user-friendly. Why display sold properties by default, for example?

Also, many individual listings on these sites lack important details, don't include a floorplan or even photography. We couldn't search by categories we would have found useful, such as by square footage rather than number of bedrooms, and some agents seem to be willing to try anything to become more visible in the results.

On the other hand, we found vertical search engines like Zoomf, Extate and Nestoria to be much more usable, but they also have downsides. They had far fewer properties on display, for example. And none of the three agents that valued our house had heard of them.

As a buyer, all this basically means you have to regularly check a number of sites – not a massive hassle. But it would be great to have a service that stores your favourite properties from different directories, search engines and individual agents. Zoomf is planning to launch one, but it isn’t available yet.

There are all the old arguments about estate agents to consider as well. We found it doesn’t matter if you’re a buyer or seller - if you want a good deal, you have to work hard.

As a seller, you’re pressured into selling your house in order to buy, then pressured into buying a house in order to exchange. The two agents we rejected also tried to lock us into long contracts with big notice periods. And as a buyer, you have to contend with fierce competition and clever tactics like open hours.
 
But there are still few alternatives to the agency route, and I'm sure the industry will have some fiendish plan to deal with any threat to the status quo – just like it has with online competitors set up over the past few years. Perhaps it will take more difficult market conditions to see any change taking place.

Avatar-blank-50x50

Published 10 April, 2007 by Richard Maven

529 more posts from this author

Comments (72)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Martin O'Neill

I am very sympathetic to your plight. This is why we have just launched WOW property, a low cost estate agency. We are passionate about service and have had enough of poor quality service from traditional estate agents. We believe in honesty & transparency. 90% of the population look for their new house on-line. We advertise our houses through all the portals thus ensuring that we get the best coverage

over 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Ben Horton

Have you tried the UK's largest property search at http://www.home.co.uk?

over 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Richard Maven, Writer at Econsultancy

Thanks both. I'll definitely be looking at other options next time out.

over 9 years ago

Michaela Carmichael

Michaela Carmichael, Marketing Freelance Consultant at Freelance Marketing Consultant

Hi Richard
Did you also look at primelocation.com? They get you to register and store your fav's - a nice feature. Some of the agents seem more web literate; eg D&G and John D Wood and hence have a wider spread of their properties.
best,
Michaela

over 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Mike Carter

Hi Richard,
Great article. I agree with most of your comments about the space.

One thing we believe that the 'portals' have never done well, is the function of search itself. Most consumers go to these websites to look for property (search). If i'm on a portal i'm doing research on the properties for sale, looking at them, locating them on a map and trying to discover if the features of the property are interesting enough to require further inquiry.

However, if you check the options for searching on most portals, it is severely lacking. Searching by minimum bedrooms, how is this helpful ? This makes me toil thru 100s of listings of properties that do not hit my requirement of 2 bedrooms only. (example)
Can I view only mews flats? Can i view flats on a particular street? Can I view flats with gardens? All very pertinent to the audience and in most cases not easily derived without a lot of consumer work. This "work" needs to be done by the product (website).
Of course, all this page viewing and time spent on site is great for the portal's statistics but it is terrible for the consumer.

It is why the rise of vertical search engines is going to automatically give a better user experience and better visibility for agent properties that match 'queries.' Portals cannot flex their product to keep up if they are not using true 'search engine' technology like the kind that backs Google, Yahoo, Kayak.com and the others.

Our biased, 2 cents.
Mike from Zoomf

over 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

housereview

Suprising that the agents had not heard of the sites you mentioned.

A full list is available here: http://www.housereview.com/wiki/Finding_Home_Listings - including agent based sites as well as the vertical search sites.

over 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Vivienne Law

Hi Richard

I read your article with a lot of interest. My business partner and I set up Mov'In Property in Cheshire 2 months ago (Jan 07) to overcome all of the issues you raise. We were frustrated with the general lack of passion for property that most traditional estate agents have, which reflected in the descriptions and photographs. This has made a huge difference to the time it takes to get a house under offer.

We set up to take the stress out of moving by also providing a home search facility free to any of our vendors. We operate on the net and charge 0.75% which makes us extremely competitive bearing in mind the level of service all of our vendors get. Some people however are still prepared to pay 1.5% for bad service...!

So don't despair, some of us are trying to change the face of estate agents.

Vivienne

over 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

WILLIAM jones

I find LOOK4APROPERTY.COM www.look4aproperty.com to be a great user friendly site, with great features and its quick as well.

I dislike FindaProperty and Prime Location as they are full of ads, which distracts me.

LOOK4APROPERTY.COM also advertise on TV.

I have so far been impressed with their website and I have my own email alerts account with them too.

Take a look.

over 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Nick

Hi,

we set up our site to make it easy for people to find what they are looking for ( www.EstateAgents123.com ) and so designed our site to be as user friendly as possible. We are an estate agent directory and enquiry service allowing you to contact multiple agents in one go with all your property needs. This is achieved by locating agents in your desired area that offer products and services you need and then completing a quick and simple enquiry form.

Cheers

over 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Paul Clarke

Re: one seemed more interested in what we thought it was worth than actually looking at the house and doing some maths.

This is because some vendors do not really want an honest opinion on value. What they really want is someone to confirm what they already think is correct.

Agents are also very aware, the highest valuation tends to win the instruction, so the Agent is under pressure to value on the high side.

The great British public at large would be best advised to use established Estate Agents with good local reputations that offer a great service.

Most unfortunately choose their estate agent on FEE and High Valuation. This is not a recipe for success, as to provide a great service costs money.

Sale by owner websites are nothing new and do little to achieve a smooth move.

H.I.P.'s may also prove a further barrier to sale by owner websites along with the existing property misdescriptions act.

over 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

DAVID AMERIGO

Once again estate agents get a drubbing from the "I should have sold it myself lobby"

Estate agents sort problems again and again ang again. They appease, they persuade, they lobby, they encourage and above all work extremely hard to get sales through to completion.

Imagine a couple of "for sale by owner" merchants caught up in a 5 house chain where one buyer decides to "pull out" for some trivial reason. 99/100 it would be down to the estate agency staff working in that chain to try to pull things together. And more often that not they do !!!!

Estate agents in general do a great job and care very much about their clients.

I am one and have been for the last 25 years. My branch negotiators and sales progessors receive endless thank you cards, gifts and highly favourable comments from appreciative buyers and sellers.

Bring on the For Sale By Owner websites and bring on the laughable Tesco £199 deal. We welcome the competion and the chance to prove that there is nothing better than a skilled local professional with endless local knowledge.

about 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Richard Maven, Writer at Econsultancy

* Once again estate agents get a drubbing from the "I should have sold it myself lobby"

So there's clearly demand for owner exchanges.

* They appease, they persuade, they lobby, they encourage and above all work extremely hard to get sales through to completion.

That's their job.

* Imagine a couple of "for sale by owner" merchants caught up in a 5 house chain where one buyer decides to "pull out" for some trivial reason. 99/100 it would be down to the estate agency staff working in that chain to try to pull things together. And more often that not they do !!!!

Imagine a seller becoming part of a chain because an agent doesn't do their research on the buyer, or gives the seller poor/misleading advice. Both situations happen.

* Estate agents in general do a great job and care very much about their clients.

lol. Of course they do.

http://www.personneltoday.com/Articles/2007/06/12/41044/research-by-estate-agency-wow-finds-property-sellers-believe-estate-agents-lack-necessary-training-a.html

* I am one and have been for the last 25 years. My branch negotiators and sales progessors receive endless thank you cards, gifts and highly favourable comments from appreciative buyers and sellers.

Then you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

* We welcome the competion and the chance to prove that there is nothing better than a skilled local professional with endless local knowledge.

You're right. I just don't think you're describing more than 30% of the agents I've come across. Good luck!

about 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Justin Hayward

i'm definately on the side of the buyer exchange having been treated very poorly by Foxtons in the past, who are notoriously bad, so for me, Tesco moving into the property market and giving more consumer choice is a good thing.

However, the most important thing is being forgotten here; presentation of site content. Every site i've seen is shocking in terms of really allowing me to see the properties i'm interested in properly. My top 5 worst problems i've come across are:

1. Poor images
2. Bad information about the property
3. No floorplan
4. Not updating property database so you phone up and its been sold/rented - aaarrggh!
5. Useless location searching

Imagine saving everyones time on all those wasted viewings if someone could get it right!

Buying a property is a huge emotional and financial purchase, it's about time there was a shake up.

about 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Justin Burns

Hi Richard

I don’t believe we are going to see the demise of the traditional estate agent any time soon but I do agree with you that the general level of service they offer is going to have to improve.

The fact that you have a choice of 17 local agents is the main problem. While in some industries competition leads to improved levels of customer service the opposite happens with estate agents. Most spend so much time worrying about how they are going to outwit their competitors that they forget about their clients.

Agents are generally selected to value a property as a result of the seller’s brand awareness (from seeing boards) and then instructed based on their valuation. By valuing high an agent gets another board up and the process goes on. In the current rising market even very highly priced properties are selling but in case they don’t the long agreement that you mention ensures that there is plenty of time to work the price down or allow the market to catch up.

I can understand why one of the agents was interested in what you thought your property was worth. It is a fact that when a seller requests a valuation they are not looking for a realistic figure based on recently sold comparable properties but rather for an agent to agree with, or top, their own ridiculously inflated opinion on value. So if an agent relies on “doing some maths” they can kiss good bye to the instruction. I would urge people to get a good idea of the value of their property before inviting the agents in.

I think there are two major barriers to going the DIY route; the first being security. Most people are concerned about inviting a complete stranger into their home, at least if you sell through an agent you can insist that they accompany. The second barrier is the general lack of trust between buyer and seller. House hunting brings out the worst in people. The greatest service that an agent can offer is to act as a diplomat between buyer and seller. The antics of estate agents are nothing compared to what buyers and sellers get up to when left to their own devices.

I agree with you that it will take a prolonged market slump to sort estate agents out. In a more difficult market agents will have to improve their customer service to survive but for the time being they are just enjoying the market.

about 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Nigel Farren

The costs of employing an estate agent to sell you home need no longer be expensive.

Like WOW we are estate agents offering a fixed fee of only £799 on a no sale, no fee basis. We have shop premises in St Albans city centre and provide everything traditional agents do including valuations, negotiation of offers, advertising on the portals and in local newspapers etc.

There are now a number of fixed fee agents dotted around the country and in time, we envisage such agencies will take over from the traditional expensive agents. It is only a matter of time.

about 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

bill willmott, Partner at Red Homes

Hi there as an Estate Agent I agree with much of what has been said.

You will be aware that over 90% of property sold in the UK is first viewed on the internet and 80% of that via Right Move the market leader.

Its a fact that most Estate Agents use RM along with other property portals to market their property but have not reduced their fees to reflect the way that property is now sold in the UK. This also reflects the "time poor" population we have now and who seriously wants to spend their free time visiting high street showrooms. The internet is the answer as in much less time you can locate a shortlist to view.

Our solution is Red Homes and we offer a low fee of 0.5% with a personal service, availablity, accompanied viewings, local papers and Right Move. We find that this offers the right balance of a great service coupled with modern technology. We add value in that we do help smooth things through .... for example tomorrow night I will probably spend 2 hours with one of my customers helping him with his sols paperwork. He is a FTB and needs some guidance.

With Right Move we do get stats that tell his how our property is performing and any agent who does not use these and other tools to communicate to their vendors is frankly rather silly.

However, it is fair to say that valuing property over the last 18 months has become difficult with lack of stock, high rates of capital growth and sometimes very few direct comparisions.

This is made made more difficult when certain agents overvalue property in order to get instructions, so prices from realistic agents means instructions are lost. The media hype dosent help as many vendors really do believe their homes are worth £££ and will sell on the first day. Some do obv.

On the subject of websites most agents would probably admit that 90% of their enquires come through RM if they are honest so their own websites are usually not the first port of call.

about 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Ogaden

Tesco joining the property market is enough to say that estate agents are doomed!

about 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

bleu

In France the agents are still getting away with charging between 6 - 10 % on top of the asking price, from then on the notairs fees are a further 7 %. The agents do little more than put up a sign and if your lucky advertise in their own (agents only) little free mag.

However this is normally reserved for deals where the agent has the property exclusively. The real problem is that the French although they know the agents high fees, are not very good at marketing especially online.

The internet in many of the little villages is still a bit of a novality for the kids and moreso people are often too mean to spend the 50 euros it takes to advertisie their property on online web sites that offer listings.

So its still a culture shift and education divide between those online and not as to how much you are left with after the agents have taken their large slice. But it is surly only a matter of time before the agents in FRANCE are also forced to lower these absorbent fess.

www.a-place-in-the-sun.com

about 9 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

David Taylor

Being totally stressed by "traditional Estate Agents" and their "traditional fees" gave myself and my directors all the reasons we needed to enter the market with a national online agency who real home values and a passion for property. taylorahome.co.uk was born out of sheer frustration and a will to give people want they want - choice and value for money. Our fees are less than half that of standard agencies and our webiste network is reaching over 220 saving the client thousands of £££££££ and still improving service levels to keep the move stress free and hassle less! We acheive the highest sale prices in the shortest time, so my answer to the problem is look us up at www.taylorahome.co.uk and give us try, its free with NO SALE NO FEE!

over 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Philip Doleman

Estate Agents are indeed one of the most hated professions in the UK. It is easy to understand why with over inflated commission and questionable loyalties.
There is no longer any need to put ourselves through this stress when selling a property. As many people are now becoming aware there are more and more services out there allowing us to sell our property privately. There are many benefits to this with the biggest being the thousands of pounds you will save.
In todays uncertain climate with the constant reporting of a house price crash just around the corner, and prices actually dropping in certain regions, it is all the more important to take the maximum amount of equity out of a sale.
Late last year I set up www.MoveWise.co.uk which is a user friendly 'for sale by owner' property website which aims to make the whole private sale as easy as possible. The feedback we have had so far has been fantastic with many customers saying they will never again use an estate agent. Although Esate Agents will be needed by some people with difficult circumstances we are predicting a change in the market over the next few years with more and more customers deciding to sell their own homes. All in all it spells an end to dodgy agents! And about time too.
For more information please visit www.MoveWise.co.uk

over 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Dan Towers

There is a free service called AgentQuote.co.uk that seems to be making a real effort in their model to gather consumer based-feedback on estate agents. This is in the form of a 5 star rating. They also ask agents to display their profile, typical fee and number of potentially interested parties on their books to sellers, whilst preserving the seller’s identity. The seller can then compare their local agents, looking at their 5 star rating (based on user feedback), the profiles (what services the agents offers), fees and number of possible interested parties. I don’t think that trying to sell your property without an estate agent is really a sensible thing to do; the problem is finding the right estate agent, and a great service like AgentQuote.co.uk really helps.

over 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Kenzie

The comments you have towards property portal websites are interesting. I think the new upstart Property-England.com has plans to incorporate a lot of the things you mention, such as square footage, etc. It ultimately comes down to how much data is availavle from the agents...

over 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Faye

I agree with Kenzie, I am looking at property currently and have found property-england.com to be extreamly useful. From the moment you go to their front page searching is easy (like a google search) unlike alot of the bigger names you aren't constantly being asked to register. I also gather they offer quicker ways to market such as SMS and WAP.

They also provide localised adverts for services which is a useful feature once you have bought your property. Perhaps these guys have listened to the market and come up with the solution?

over 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Simon Bayliss

I wholeheartedly agree that the days of the traditional High Street Estate Agent are numbered. As an Estate Agent, with over 15 years experience, I am well aware that potential sellers & buyers (indeed Tenants/Landlords) are not visiting 'offices' any longer. Indeed there seems to be a move in the North of the country to change Estate Agents Offices into 'cafes/juice bars'? I think though with the average period of time that someone stays in a property before selling being 7 years it will be another 5/7 years before we see real change. I have started (Jan 08) my own company in Oxford which offers a 'third' way ie. between High Street & just selling one self. I offer the best of the internet portals with the mix of local knowledge & experience. The fee is 0.4 per cent. More reasonable, I think, than the 1.25% average in my area from the High Street. Those that do privately sell only I think, with the particularly tough market, are going to be up against it & many are not well versed with the whole sale, negotiation, & progress issues. Indeed even in marketing. I spoke to one seller who had put a £15 advert in the local paper for a property he was advertising at £385K, few details, no description or photo. On the opposite side of the page was a chap selling a 1997 Volkswagen Golf at £750 who had a box ad, full details & colour photo.!!! surronded by a dozen similar. mmhhh.

over 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

George

I don't think ALL estate agents are doomed, just the bad ones. There are some really good services, such as agentquote.co.uk, which is making great efforts to separate the sheep from the goats with a consumer-feedback rating system.

The great thing about the web is that eventually the sheer volume of cumulative consumer-based opinion that is being fed back into various databases will eventually paint a very good and reliable picture of the good and the bad. The inevitable outcome is that only those with good, or unproven reputations will stay in the game, and the remainder will have to improve, or lose out.

over 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Joe

I agree that the estate agents in todays format cannot survive. You can now BUY and SELL property completely FREE on www.PropertyHAT.com . Basically you can sell your property for ZERO cost - you just tap in your price , location and beds and it gives you a LIST of BUYERS!! You then make contact for FREE.

If you are buying you put in what you want and then people contact you DIRECTLY! The whole deal is done before other people (and agents) even see the property - and because the vendor isn't paying fees the price is more agreeable.
PropertyHat appears to be the market leader right now - it looks( and works ) quite similar to Rightmove (Only difference you don't have to pay). The more people use it then the less we are forced to use agents with high fees!! - I don't think we need them anymore!! Take a look!!

over 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Gavin Johnson

I don't particularly think estate agents are doomed but they will certainly have to work smarter in light of FSBO sites. The public are well aware of the cost savings to be made estate agent fees when compared to listing with the likes of PropertyHAT. However one thing that is changing the way the people are basing their choice of estate agency on is whether they offer Home Information Packs, Conveyance and Homebuyer Surveys as part of the deal. Many agents are already cross selling these additional services to survive with the competition and FSBO site will increasingly adopt too. One thing is for sure, the public will be happy to use both methods in terms of multiple agency to put their property in front of the masses.

Written by:

Estate Agency Fees Direct Limited - the Estate Agent Fees & Services Comparison site.

www.estateagencyfeesdirect.com

about 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Marcus Hill

I work at an estate agency but have not touched the sales devision since December last year and now specialize in lettings due to the housing market and credit crunch.

We advertise using findaproperty.com and rightmove.com and find rightmove to be the best at present in terms of response but will probably switch to propertyindex.com as they only charge £1 per qualified lead rather than a monthly set charge.

With regards to "Freakonomics is right and that the current industry model is set for annihilation at the hands of the web…" I don't think this is quite true as the vast majority of properties on these vertical web models are posted by estate/letting agents and inquiries are then forwarded to the agency to deal with, so as much as people are looking for properties online they're near enough always estate/letting agents on the other side.

Marcus Hill.
The Letting Shop

about 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

David Taylor

The High Street Agents demise has been on the cards for years. Nobody can spend £12k-14k a month on overheads with Online Estate Agents becoming more and more popular. We started our Internet only Estate Agent - movingkeptsimple.com just 3 weeks ago and have already had great feedback. Our fees are much lower, we give massive exposure and our sales and support centre is open 7 days a week.
There will always be room for good traditional agents but too many wanabees have sprung up over the last 5 years. Almost every town has seen an increase in Estate Agents that think that a shop front and a funky name will make them thousands. The credit crunch will sort the men out from the boys with talks of 40% due to close, let’s hope it’s the good agents that will stay open.
So if you want to sell your home with a traditional agent without the traditional fees visit us at www.movingkeptsimple.com, make a move in the right direction.

about 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Steve

It's widely acknowledged that these are tough times for estate agents and the global economy. After consultation with many of our estate agent clients, we're advising along the following lines;

1. Consolidate your advertising costs (reduce print ad sizes, haggle for better rates, come out of some publications all together such as hotproperty, fish4homes etc)

2. Rotate your window displays weekly

3. Keep your websites up to date

4. Take fresh photos of existing properties in your portfolio and make your write-ups as interesting as possible

5. Consider broadcast email marketing to attract new business

6. Make sure your website has high 'local' search engine visibility

7. Send out touting letters regularly pushing alternative services such as lettings or financial advice

8. Become an authority in your area (conduct local market research and publish the results on your blog) It's about keeping an open dialogue with your customers).

9. Use this quite time to re-evaluate your business model, for staff training exercises and staff evaluation. Changing the way you do business, terms and conditions and staffing; trimming the fat, whilst maintaining a lean and mean sales team.

The general consensus is "It's time to batten down the hatches and get back to basics" No one really knows how long the storm will last.

about 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Jon

Hi,

I run a small tourist business in France and I would have to agree with comments made elsewhere that UK folks, whilst perhaps justifiably feeling a little jaundiced should take a look overseas and see what agents are charging in France. Over the last few years the internet has begun to be used more and more commercially in France and I certainly expect to see Estate Agents having to shrink from their current 5-6% commissions.

I see a future for estate agents but I do believe they need to think seriously about the way the internet is shaping up. I reckon in the UK market forces will balance the whole thing out fairly quickly - In France I feel we will have to wait longer for value for money.

Anyway the upshot is that my wife and I got so fed up with the limited ability of estate agents to deal with our specialist sector (small family hotels) that we set up our own website for people selling and buying lifestyle choice small familiy tourist businesses. Whats more its free to use...

http://www.buymydreamhotel.com/

...so if there are any budding campsite, gite or hotel owners out there then give us a visit. Most of our adverts are for France but a few elsewhere

Regards Jon

almost 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

House Price guru

Estate agents are not doomed, they provide valuable expertise and marketing services to those who are cash rich / time poor and risk averse as regards their most valuable single asset, their home.

One property site you missed that I would recommend to anyone researching home valuations and house prices is http://www.zoopla.co.uk, free uk house prices data from Land registry but also home valuations, local information and properties for sale from private sellers and landlords.

almost 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Paul

The Lettings Negotiator is king or Queen and estate agents live on...

I run a London based recruitment company specialising in the placement of people within the property sector. I deal exclusively with estate agents on a daily basis. Previously I ran a chain of estate agencies and held various jobs and positions from junior negotiator to area sales manager - So I feel fairly well qualified to respond to the above topic.

During the past 6 months we have registered an abudance of well qualified and experienced sales negotiators, managers and top negs on our books, all desperately looking for positions within a letting's role or wanting to jump ship because they feel the grass may be greener elsewhere. This increase in registered sales personnel of course reflects what is going on in the market.

This is somewhat ironic as I remember during my time in agency, not only were these employees like gold dust but there existed a rivalry between lettings and sales, with sales believing they were somewhat superior. Of course they were being massively flatterd by the market, due to the general level of buyer panic and what we now see as the very friendly lending policies of banks and building societies.

There was a 2-3 year period between 2000-2003 whereb my area (Docklands) experienced a massive prolifiration of estate agents all wanting to get in on the act and enjoy those huge sales fees ?

Now lettings seems to be king, with agencies desperate for experienced arla trained negotiators. We place anyone with lettings experience almost immedietely. Whilst sales are somewhat dormant

Maybe some agencies will close down but certainly those with decent lettings and management portfolios will survive the current crisis.

http://www.topnegs.com

almost 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

B.A. Baracus

I stumbled across this site by pure chance in an un-related Google search.

It's all too easy to slag off Estate Agents and say that the Vendor could do 'the job' themselves.

In reality, whilst it may be within the capabilities of some Vendors to advertise their house privately on the Internet that is only a fraction of the job.

Who is going to deal with the telephone calls, conduct viewings, negotiate a price, liase with Surveyors and Solicitors, and chase it all the way through to exchange of contracts? Many Vendors simply don't have the time or the necessary skills to do one or more of these tasks.

This is where the REAL work is involved and an experienced and professional Estate Agent is worth every penny for doing it.

Richard Maven has clearly had a bad experience that is not representative of the industry and he's only seeing half of the picture.

The tens of unsolicited testimonials and thank you letters that my office has on file reflect that not all of the public have the same view as him and most do see the larger picture - what's more, they appreciate it to!

almost 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

agent orange

#31 - www.movingkeptsimple.com was obviously SO successful that the website had to be taken offline due to excessive demand. Go on, try it. I get a 'page not found' message when I try. Mentioned here in July, and now out of the frame, it seems....

In amongst the loosely-disguised 'adverts' that the website operators have left here, can any of the contributors here tell us exactly HOW MANY homes they have sold via their sites?

FSBO sites presume that the seller is (a) tech-savvy, (b) in possession of a computer and (c) someone who doesn't mind handling viewings, is comfortable being alone with strangers in their home, and is confident enough to present their home in a good light.

This approach may be totally inappropriate for large sectors of the community - the elderly/pensionable, vulnerable, handicapped and single female come to mind.

The owner is often so ingrained in their own home that they lose sight of what's necessary to market it as a PRODUCT, and are often unable to remove themselves from it being still 'their' home. They often need a considerable degree of prompting to, for instance, remove the family photos and memorabilia, tidy the bathroom and kitchen, and generally make the property look presentable. If the owners have been in their home for 10 years, the last time they would have shown anyone around a house with the aim of persuading them to buy it would have been 10 years ago. If they asked me to sell it for them, the last time I did the same would have been last week. Dare I suggest I might make a better job of it than they would?

Also, the agent is there to filter out the timewasters, window-shoppers and other non-starters out before they get as far as viewing the home. Would the owner do the same?

almost 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

agent orange

OK, the 'page not found' must have been a network problem at my end; however, on the site today;

"Taylor-a-home Limited trading as movingkeptsimple.com has ceased trading from August 31st 2008"

Lasted two months since the operator posted here in July.....

almost 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Sam Chivers

I have been an estate agent all my working life which is now twenty years.

I have always found the house sellers opinion of the estate agency industry and its work force intriguing. Obviosly I feel personally offended when we estate agents get a slating but it is no doubt justified in many cases as I myself have experienced at first hand for want of a better term "gansters" and "dishonest people". The only positive thing that I can say to all home owners thinknig of selling...take your time, inivite all the the esate agents in your area out to visit your home the advie and valution should always be free, get atleast three valuations and assess the character of the individual valuing your home.

I have always avoided the smarmy stereo typical approach prefering to adopt and more involved angle taking time to ask my potential client what their needs are, what are their plans are and most importantly what they wish to achieve. I would like to think myself an estate agent that does it the right way and am always happy to advise and guide house sellers and buyers even if they are not using my company, in fact I make it my business to check every sales chain I am involved in from start to finish every week! Thats where an estate agnet should earn their money and its easy for me to see the bad ones, they stand out like a sore thumb, poor knowlegde and disinterest.

Selling anything is easy is someone wants it enough, accepted the price needs to be right! Check my web site out and where ever you are in the country call me and see for yourself, decent estate agents do exist!

almost 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Sam Chivers

I have been an estate agent all my working life which is now twenty years.

I have always found the house sellers opinion of the estate agency industry and its work force intriguing. Obviously I feel personally offended when we estate agents get a slating but it is no doubt justified in many cases as I myself have experienced at first hand for want of a better term "gansters" and "dishonest people". The only positive thing that I can say to all home owners thinking of selling...take your time, inivite all the the esate agents in your area out to visit your home the advice and valution should always be free, get atleast three valuations and assess the character of the individual valuing your home.

I have always avoided the smarmy stereo typical approach prefering to adopt and more involved angle taking time to ask my potential client what their needs are, what are their plans are and most importantly what they wish to achieve. I would like to think myself an estate agent that does it the right way and am always happy to advise and guide house sellers and buyers even if they are not using my company, in fact I make it my business to check every sales chain I am involved in from start to finish every week! Thats where an estate agnet should earn their money and its easy for me to see the bad ones, they stand out like a sore thumb, poor knowlegde and disinterest.

Selling anything is easy is someone wants it enough, accepted the price needs to be right! Check my web site out and where ever you are in the country call me and see for yourself, decent estate agents do exist!

almost 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

bruce patterson

interesting comments from all ! good estste agents are indeed property profesionals and much of their work is unseen. The problem with the estate agency industry is that its not regulated enough. During rising markets in property any hairdresser. medical rep or car salesman can set up an agency and tade withiout any industry exprience at all. Without properer training the result is a valuation which is in fact a sales pitch and usually involves a high valuatuon coupled with a low fee i order to gain the " instruction " the result is a stressful dawn out sale where vendors and purchasers feel cheated on service and confirms the poor reputations of agents in this country,

As a vendor you get what you pay for, dont go for the cheap fee agent and certainly not instuct an agent on an inflated valuation. Be realistic about your own expectations , check curent selling prices in your area and instruct the agent who has the best repuation and one you feel comfortable in complaing to should any problems arise. Also beware of agents with high stock levels as they will find it difficult to offer a personal service if they have gone down the volume based business model. small is beautiful and its people that sell houses not websites so place your trust in an experienced professional who can demonstrate an excellent track record, pay them a proper fee for doing the job

almost 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

agent orange

"Without properer training the result is a valuation which is in fact a sales pitch"

I don't agree that one necessarily follows the other. It's perfectly possible for a new agent to provide both a realistic valuation and a realistic fee; but it is still a sales pitch, selling their service.

"As a vendor you get what you pay for"

...and you don't get what you don't pay for.

almost 8 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Estate Agents

What a Great article you have had a lot of experiences with many agents and now have probably become an expert in selling and buying. You should consider being a consultant to help people in your own predicament. Well written and clearly you held back in your complaints. Another interesting NEW Web site to look at is: http://www.royalhouseestateagents.com/
This site has Blogs listing where user comments recommending or warning about issues with purchases, rentals or letting agents. Hope you find it useful.

JP

over 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Maria Tunstall

I would like to highlight appalling business activities displayed by Business Transfer Agents like ‘Knightsbridge Business Sales’, 'Bagabusiness' and 'RTA'. All the mentioned agents blatantly ignore current EPC (Energy performance Certificate) legislation whilst passing the buck to their clients after they have already paid a heft up-front fee for advertising. They also seem to think that they are exempt from adhering to requirements that all agents are to be registered to an Ombudsman (as of Oct 2008). How can this be allowed?

over 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Lettings Salisbury

The internet is definaltly becoming a very valuable resource when is comes to lettings and advertising property. Rightmove is my personal favourite - on our website we have used the Mister Estate software to market our property's but would love to have something as easy to use as the Rightmove website as our business expands

over 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Port Elizabeth Property

Interesting posts to read.  Really enjoyed following it.  I am an Estate Agent and we rely quite a bit on our e-bussiness.  It is simply the way it works these days

about 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

chris walkey

Having been involved in selling houses in UK, then in Spain and France, I get to see a lot of good and bad marketing practises for real estate. I would say that the UK has the best marketing for property, followed by Spain and then France. France is still very much in the basic marketing mode, some agents do not even have a computer in their office and have no intention of using the internet for marketing.

Having seen these 'mean' marketing practises and having had contact with many expats desperately trying to sell their property I, along with a few other estate agents from UK, Spain and France formulated http://www.OneStopView.com

This website allows both agents and private sellers to advertise their property to the height of the modern day methods - Video Tours. This has allowed many UK property owners in Spain and France to sell their property as they have a permanent 24/7 online viewing of their property on the internet for browsers of all countries to view. This has in turn forced some agents, especially those that feed off international buyers, to improve their marketing methods.

I read back to one of the previous posts about French Agents and their marketing of property. Yes, it is true that some agents will simply stick an old black and white photo of your property in their window and simply stick the house for sale within a locally distributed magazine that simply will not sell your property. And YES, they will charge a 10% commission for simply sitting on their backsides......

If you have a property to sell and you need to attract international buyers then why nottake a video of your property and place it on http://www.OneStopView.com for FREE. We charge no sign up fees, no insertion fees, no selling fees. YOU DO NOT GIVE US ANY PAYMENT/CREDIT CARD DETAILS.

Free marketing with Video Property Tours.

Christopher.

about 7 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Caribbean Property

Quick Reply:
Rightmove is by far one of the best property portals for our industry for UK and Overseas property.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Simon Corney

With the likes of Google coming into the market place the long term future does indeed look uncertain

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Luxury Jobs

Hi Richard

Interesting post you have written, and I agree with most of your comments.  The internet is a great tool in finding suitable properties and of course from a sellers pov, an option to market it themselves!

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Rob Salisbury

Are estate agents doomed? I hope not!

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Wool Hopkinsons

Agents now are having to understand the power of the internet and including it as a key area for the services of their business.  Having search by street name is a key factor.

over 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Emma

I am an estate agent in Spain and to open an estate agent here you have to be qualified although it never seems to be regulated. Many ex-pats have opened up estate agents here because they see others making money and decide to give it a go themselves.

Spanish property laws are very tricky for example, after sales taxes depend on your residency status, which is why the qualifications exist. Therefore my advice for those who are looking to buy or sell in Spain is to choose an estate agent who proudly announces their regulating body: AEGAI, ANPIFF, API, NAEA, RICS etc.

Again each year these bodies announce the recommended comission percentage that any agent should charge per sale ie maximum 5% but some agents have charged in excess of 10%.

Many agents have closed here but many are still working, captivating people in to the Spanish way of life and moving them into their dream home in the sun.

Estate agents in Spain are here to stay, but only if they move with the times.

almost 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Online Estate Agents

I don't think estate agents are doomed, they just need to evolve a little and embrace the internet more.

almost 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Loan

Hi Richard - I dont think there's any chance of estate agents being run out of town, but i do think they need to expand their service offerings. the last couple of years have shown just how tough the market really is .. yet i've seen few start to use social media effectively

almost 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Emma

What a shame that you were let down by your estate agent! A property consultant/estate agent should always aim for the sale by also for honest efficient service.

I always let me vendors know the property description and I ask them if they feel I have left anything important out:- it is the only way to ensure that the vendor is happy.

almost 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Digital marketing

I think that the move towards requiring estate agents to gain qualifications will enhance service delivery and result in a more consistent approach .. but I can't  help feel that the traditional estate agent model which effectively employs 'freelancers' rather than 'staff' means that few estate agents have brand loyalty, so there's little incentive to look after the corporate brand.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Private House Sales

Anyone that has dealt with an estate agent before seems to always ask the same question, what exactly is it they are dong to earn such a high commission? 90% of home buyers find their own home online and it is often left to the home owner to show potential buyers around their home. All an estate agent really does is act as a middle man then a solicitor works to complete the sale, so it seems ludicrous to pay an estate agent 1% to 2% in commission. The average UK house price is now in excess of £200k so that is £4k in commission you will pay. Surely that money would be better spent somewhere else? Estate agents need to shape up and change their structure or it is highly likely we will not see them on our streets in the years to come.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Scottish Home Reports

I agree that online estate agency is the way to go in the current climate.  Sellers are pinching every penny and are looking for value for money at a low cost.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Conveyancing

We run a private house sale website (http://www.househop.co.uk) and it's been an interesting few months since we launched.

We've faced one big problem - we cannot list our properties on Rightmove and the other major portals because they won't allow private sellers on!

The OFT (office of fair trading) looked into this in a report they published last year and while they recognised the problem they said that rather than invoking the Competition Act 1998 they were hoping for a "market solution" - i.e., they're not going to do anything!

So we're biting the bullet and adding online estate agency (while keeping the free private sale) - it's the only way we can reach a lot of the buyers out there. If you can't beat them join them!

John

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Agent Orange

Conveyancing - RM will only allow EAs on their site because the relevant legislation - PMA, EA Act 1979 - only covers those in the business of Estate Agency, not private sellers.

A private seller can say literally anything about their property - whether correct, honest or not - and there's no legislation that protects the buyer against it.

Are your listings subject to the Property Misdescriptions Act, and the Estate Agency Act?

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Insurance

I think the reason that these sites leave sold properties in their listings is because of SEO reasons. Those listings provide content with a variety of keyword combinations like '2 bedroom flat in Wimbledon'. If they then remove that listing from the site they lose those searches. To them it is better to have people landing on sold listings and then hopefully navigating to newer listings.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Glasgow Estate Agents

People are still scared to do anything else I feel. It is their biggest asset and they dont want to take any chances.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Cameron(House Sale)

Is it something to do with online marketing? Agents are doomed because of the booming of SEO fields?

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Barratt Homes

I think ultimately estate agents are in fact doomed and will become a thing of the past. Anyone can set up a virtual agency now and employ a Solicitor to deal with any legalities.

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

nikki jones

Not doomed just not proactive !!!!! I have had a newly converted 6 bedroom barn conversion in somerset on the market for 6 months and nothing !!! So I am now looking for proactive estate agents that wont tie me into a contract and are not going to charge me until they have actively sold my property !! Anyone any ideas or any proactive estate agents out there 07766 416723 !!!!

over 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Des Lavender

What about Estate Agents that still charge you their Marketing Fee at the end of the Agreement Period? haart do this. £180 for NOT selling your property!! Outrageous.

Des.

about 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Ann

I'm not in favor of High street agents anymore, as some agents are just plain lazy! Do I really want to pay thousands of pounds for someone else to do something I can do myself?

That's why I turned to online estate agencies instead. I did some research on online estate agents like Zoopla, eMoov and other leading online agencies. A majority of the public are online to find and sell property. I sold my property through emoov.co.uk. My house got sold within 2 months! I saved thousands of pounds in estate agent fees. Estate agencies.. looks like they may be doomed soon.

about 5 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Andrew Cardiff

I think there has been a lot of people that have found many of the high street estate agents to be lazy and not worth the money you pay to them, which is why there has been such a massive influx towards online agents.

As an online letting agent in Cardiff (www.cardiffapartments.com), we've seen potential clients using our web presence much more.

over 4 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Todd

Hello to every body, it's my first pay a quick visit of this weblog; this website includes amazing and truly fine stuff in favor of readers.

almost 4 years ago

Nick Tamplin

Nick Tamplin, Zevizo Properties

I think there's a place for the GOOD traditional estate agent just not so many. I think the next 10 years will see a sharp decline in traditional agents in short...a culling of the riff raff! The good guys will stand strong and adapt as always.

As for the online estate agent i see this as the best way for all property buyers to start selling their property the savings are huge and can t be ignored. Companies like ZEVIZO PROPERTIES and EMOOV are good quality can save the customer thousands compared to traditional agent.

almost 3 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

1 Estate Agents In Glasgow, Director at 1 Estate Agents

Marketing a property isn't easy. Important skills such as sales, copywriting and photography mustn't be overlooked when trying to sell in a busy market. A good estate agent will help sell a property at a better price and in a more expedient timeframe.

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

1 Estate Agents In Glasgow, Director at 1 Estate Agents

Marketing a property isn't easy. Important skills such as sales, copywriting and photography mustn't be overlooked when trying to sell in a busy market. A good estate agent will help sell a property at a better price and in a more expedient timeframe.

http://1estateagents.co.uk

over 2 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Richard Tuck, Director at turtlehomes.co.uk Online Estate Agents

WOW property certainly are doomed!! Currently there is a huge amount of investment in the online estate agency industry at the moment. Online estate agents such as http://www.turtlehomes.co.uk are offering an estate agency service currently for just £195+VAT

almost 2 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.