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Spot the Difference

Agent One

Lives locally and has a good knowledge of the area he works in. He receives the majority of his enquiries from property portals such as Rightmove etc. and his own website. He endeavours to speak to each enquirer personally by telephone including following up email enquiries by phone. He conducts property appraisals himself by visiting each client. However he will have made use of his own local knowledge and possibly an automated valuation beforehand. Wherever possible he also conducts accompanied viewings.

Agent Two

Lives locally and has a good knowledge of the area he works in. He receives the majority of his enquiries from property portals such as Rightmove etc. and his own website. He endeavours to speak to each enquirer personally by telephone including following up email enquiries by phone. He conducts property appraisals himself by visiting each client. However he will have made use of his own local knowledge and possibly an automated valuation beforehand. Wherever possible he also conducts accompanied viewings.

The Difference?

The main difference is not immediately apparent – especially not to the clients who make remote enquiries via the internet. It is of course that Agent One has a high street presence with inherent overheads. He probably also runs an advert in the local newspaper mainly to appease his vendors as most enquiries from buyers come via the internet.

Agent Two runs a ‘Virtual Estate Agency’ from home harnessing the power of the internet to keep costs down without compromising on service. His website has a back office system that helps him run his business efficiently. It even includes an automated mailing list to update prospective buyers with details of new properties as soon as they become available. These reduced overheads and efficiencies enable him to charge homesellers less than Agent One. Nevertheless Agent Two also lives locally and has a good knowledge of the market having been an estate agent for a number of years before he decided to branch out on his own.

Location, Location, Location

Does it matter whether you are sitting in an expensive high street premise (that few people visit) or a secondary office or even home when you are making telephone calls, sending emails or more mundane tasks?

Busy estate agents should be spending most of the time out of the office anyway and with a Blackberry in tow you can work efficiently from your car if need be.

The Future

The success of Rightmove in recent years has changed the face of property sales in the UK with over 80% of people using the internet to find their next home – before they even speak to an estate agent.

There will always be a place for a good high street estate agent. However I believe that many will become niche players as estate agency evolves and takes advantage of new technology. Nevertheless the one thing that the internet cannot replace is personal service which is why companies such as www.mousesale.co.uk are recruiting a network of independent agents across the UK to provide personal face to face service and local knowledge.

If 80% of Agent One’s enquiries are coming via the Internet, does the other 20% arrive because he has a high street presence or other means such as referrals or for sale borads? Do his non-internet enquiries justify having a high street presence?

Just because Agent One has been working out of the high street for years does n’t mean it is the only way to conduct business. (Apparently it takes 16 to 21 times of repeating a task to make it a habit – breaking the lease on premises is of course another matter entirely).

The future of property sales is not simply online. It is online with a personal service. Virtual agents will only evolve if they are become a hybrid between traditional estate agents and Internet Property Retailers.



Richard Garland is the founder and managing director of www.mousesale.co.uk and can be contacted via richard@mousesale.co.uk