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Posted on 17 September 2020

The Future of Estate Agents

We think it is safe to stay COVID-19 has changed the way a lot of businesses…

We think it is safe to stay COVID-19 has changed the way a lot of businesses and industries operate. Thankfully, the UK property market has proven very resilient, demonstrating this with a high volume of transactions over the past few months. Where some in the industry struggled to adapt, estate agents were one of the first to change by championing the idea of virtual viewings. Simply put, these are pre-prepared or streamed videos made by either the agent or the seller to showcase the house to prospective buyers. The surge in people leaving the city could be attributed to this simple act as perspective buyers have been viewing properties and buying properties without having to step through the front door. You could even go as far as to say, this this could be the reason why more ‘blind transactions’ (purchases without physically going to the property to view) have increased over the past few months.

Given UK estate agents’ flexibility and openness to adopting new approaches as we’ve highlighted above, might they also be considering bigger changes to how they run their business’?

Broadly speaking, estate agents across the UK use one simple and effective business model… high street offices with three or more employees who’s key role is to sell privately owned properties.  Historically, large companies such as Countywide have commanded most of the market share by ‘collecting’ such agencies under their umbrella corporation. More recently, we have also seen a rise in self-employed estate agents which will be interesting to see how they develop in this industry over the upcoming years.

If we push the trend a little further, will the next few years see individual agents buying and selling properties in the UK much like they do in America? Talking to a few current and former estate agents the consensus seems to be yes, unless the ‘powers above’ change the regulations on how the industry must operate. Will we start to see more ‘One man band’ agencies arrive to the scene? Then again, the tools enabling homeowners to market their properties already exist with the likes of Purple Bricks, could estate agencies be a dying breed without us knowing?

If this hypothetical scenario were to become reality, how could it affect those buying, selling, or renting a property? Very little in our opinion. Whether buying, selling, or renting, the tools to advertise to the masses already exist with companies such as Rightmove, OnTheMarket, and Spare Room.

In summary, agents and the companies they work for have proved very resourceful and responsive when adopting new approaches. Given this observation, it is only a matter of time before we see another change in the way estate agents run this market.