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‘Online-only estate agents have failed to disrupt the property industry’

But their technology and approach to customer service have changed vendor perceptions for good and agents must adapt, says senior industry figure Richard Rawlings.

Nigel Lewis

estate agents

Online-only estate agents have largely failed in their bid to disrupt the property industry but have radically changed what the public now expect of estate agents.

This claim is made by high-profile industry training guru Richard Rawlings, who says online agents have failed to flourish in the increasingly tough property market because their models are designed to work well in high turnover, ‘hot’ markets where homes are easier to sell.

He also claims that agents who have dropped their fees in a bid to compete with online agents have ended up offering lower standards instead, and that those agents which concentrate on better service have the keys to success.

“Vendors have decided that paying an agent is well worth while, but they want a great service for that money. It was never actually about price,” Rawlings has told The Negotiator.

“In terms of on-line benefits, there is a perception that the public likes to be in control, as they are with their online shopping and social media. “But I would argue that this is not necessarily the case. They do like to be connected. Control is not so good once you realise how little you know… that’s why people go back to travel agents when trying to book inter-connecting flights and hotels.

“They want to pay someone else to take all the hassle and responsibility away from them.”

He also claims that estate agents in the past have not been good enough at telling the public about their knowledge, skills and experience and why they are worth the fees they charge.

Richard Rawlings is about to set out on a 17-venue roadshow around the UK exploring these and other issues.

Read more about online estate agents.




August 19, 2019

One comment

  1. The mistake online agents made was in offering the service for a incomprehensible fee. If something is purportedly better, it usually comes in more expensive. Not less. So, at the outset, online are scrambling to prove they are just as good, only cheaper.

    Vendors didn’t believe they were just as good. Reading intentions and emotions is something the high street agents do as a matter of course. So the change that online was asking vendors to make was a risk. With risk comes fear. So we paid more and tried to discount the fee.

    Allied to that, the online sector had zero message. Imagining that saving a few quid would do the trick. Nothing about the people behind the brands. Nothing about the values and culture. Nothing about anything, other than fee.

    They deserved to fail.

    The business model doesn’t necessarily demand a hot, high turnover market. It just requires the owners not to be profligate with other people’s money. Online can work, but not at the fee level and not with the abysmal marketing.

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