Have Online Agents Had Their Day?
Today came the news that Emoov is calling in administrators in a last-ditch attempt to salvage its future, and this month Purplebricks announced a loss in profit and Hatched has been shut down.
Firstly, the news that Connells has closed its online service, Hatched, comes with Chief Executive David Plumtree commenting that the cost of customer acquisition was one of the main barriers to being able to deliver a profitable return.
This month Purplebricks’ share price sank another 3.6%, ending trading on the London stock market at 1.77p despite a 500p trading figure at the beginning of the year. Market commentators have quoted that Purplebricks has under-performed the FTSE 100 by more than 40% so far this year.
Finally, on the back of this, today we saw the news from Sky that Emoov, which orchestrated a three-way merger just five months ago that attributed a £100m price tag, is on the verge of appointing James Cowper Kreston, an accounting firm, to act as administrator.
A viable saving?
When it comes to online estate agency, it has always paid to look beyond the headline figures, as we know many sellers have found that they haven’t saved anything at all.
The HomeOwner’s Alliance consumer group has reported that traditional agents sell more than 84% of homes listed, whereas Purplebricks sold just 57% in the year to April 2017 while according to GetAgent the average for eMoov and Tepilo were 47% and 51% respectively. By comparison, at Clyde Property we are able to secure sales for over 80% of our clients (August 2017 to August 2018).
The fact that nearly half of all online sellers are unable to secure a sale means that these sellers end up paying two sets of fees, given the up-front non-returnable online agency fee structure.
In addition, online agents’ basic costs rarely include the standard services offered by traditional agents. This has led the Government’s Trading Standards team to issue a warning in the past, as online agents have made unsubstantiated claims about fees when compared to traditional agents.
The news that online estate agents are finding it difficult to commoditise a personal service, with people’s emotions and life changing choices at the heart of any property purchase or sale, is no surprise to us.
The human touch
We believe that helping people in Scotland buy or sell a home or invest in property is a process that requires understanding and put simply, a human touch. This cannot be achieved using an online-only service.
An online service cannot offer the same level of reassurance and emotional support coupled with financial advice and localised industry expertise. There simply is no place for a ‘one size fits all approach’ to estate agency. The process runs much deeper than simply buying and selling property. This is why online estate agency, albeit with a financial appealing offering and discounted fees, ends up being a false economy for many.
Combining a highly personal and exceptional estate agency service whilst utilising new online technologies and advancements can help broaden the services we are able to offer. However, it’s essential that this is underpinned by a traditional, personal service whereby a client can speak to an agent that understands their needs, their property, the local market and can emotionally invest in their moving journey.
We have harnessed the best of online – sponsored social media campaigns for every property, HD Property Video, a unique online progress and communication portal and an exceptional website – whilst providing a traditional service.
What must never change is the ability for a seller to walk into a branch, sit in front of the person selling their home, or pick up the phone, and talk to someone about how things are going. This personal service and a solid understanding of a client’s needs and the property journey they are embarking on, is what we believe estate agency is all about.
Clyde Property is a leading independent, multiple award-winning estate and letting agent with more than 30 years’ experience in selling and letting property in Scotland. Just calltoday for friendly, impartial advice on finding your next dream home.