Viewber: older agents still resistant to outsourcing viewings

Viewings outsource firm boss Ed Mead says agents can now benefit from fitting around customers.

Younger agents see the value in outsourcing viewings, but many others stick doggedly to a traditional approach, the co-founder of Viewber has told The Neg.

Link to PropTech News

Ed Mead (pictured) told The Negotiator that the industry is run by people who are resistant to change, and insist on meeting potential buyers at a property.

He said many agents believe the viewing is an opportunity to gather more information from customers, and to sell them mortgages or insurance.

“That attitude still prevails,” he said, “but you can get that information on the phone. I am  increasingly frustrated about this.”  Rising fuel costs also make it more cost efficient to use someone local to carry out viewings, he explained.

Firms run by younger agents appreciate the need to provide viewings ‘on demand’ to suit buyers. “They know that when people want to see something, they want to see it now, and not on Tuesday afternoon,” he said.

Things changing

Former Douglas & Gordon boss Mead said only 5% of Viewber’s business comes from high street agents, with far more from property managers, housing associations and auctioneers. The company has just celebrated the milestone of 300,000 viewings since it was founded in 2016.

“High street usage [of Viewber] is increasing, but agents have a lot going on and don’t reassess things very often,” he said.

However, Mead was optimistic that things were changing, and more agents would use a viewings outsource service. He said staff shortages following the Covid pandemic made agents more likely to consider booking someone through Viewber for an hour or a half day.

Viewber surveyed 2,500 people, Mead said, and 81% preferred to be shown a property by an independent person.

There are currently 3,000 active ‘Viewbers’ working for the company with some 7,000 registered.

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2 Comments

  1. Ed, I’m not sure that it’s a great idea to criticise older agents for the business decisions they make just as I wouldn’t criticise you for the decisions you make. Everyone goes through some kind of a process when making decisions, some processes are well structured and others less so, but the point is that whether that causes frustration or not, as suppliers the best response we can have is to make our offer so compelling that the decision to use our services is a no-brainier. That said, as a former agent I loved showing some houses myself because I picked up a good number of instructions when I did that. I suspect that you experienced that as well in your own career. Viewings are a great opportunity to develop rapport with those you’re showing around. Eventually I only showed a small percentage of the homes we were selling but I found that getting out of the office was enjoyable as well and provided variety. Like the gentleman above, we had a local viewing team. We used to affectionately refer to ours as ‘flying handbags’ and they took care of the bulk of viewings.

    Our current business, DCTR.co.uk has competition that includes agents who enjoy Photoshop more than they enjoy speaking to vendors. But all we can do about that is edit images to a much better standard and at a lower cost than they can achieve themselves. But you can’t win them all and ‘frustration’ is a negative emotion that plays zero part in our thinking.

    Congratulations on building your network of 3000 ‘Viewbers’ that’s a fantastic achievement, but your survey indicating 81% of people prefer to be shown around a house by an independent person is curious insofar that ‘Viewbers’ can hardly be strictly independent as their paymasters are the estate agents employing them. You know that I have massive respect for you but I think this time you’re off the mark when usually I find myself often influenced by your views. I know you won’t mind me saying that. I blame the heat😀

  2. I have 3 very personable, self employed, local people that carry out viewings for us at £10.00 per viewing plus generous mileage allowance. Works really well for us, the viewers see them as independent of the agency and they can carry out viewings for us 7 days a week. I’ve even had our ‘viewing assistants’ mentioned in a very positive manner on our customer feedback forms which is great! They would never try to sell mortgages or anything other than the house they are viewing and they all say they absolutely love what they do (and we invite them all on our team outings).
    I think Viewber is a great idea, but certainly not the only option for estate agents. I’ve done the job now for 33 years so am clearly an ‘older agent’…our way may not work for everyone, but it works really well for us.

What's your opinion?

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