A quarter of agency branches may not reopen once the pandemic passes, an industry veteran has predicted.
Industry trainer and consultant Michael Day said it is too early to make concrete forecasts but predicted a mixture of cashflow issues and a realisation that firms can rely on technology rather than having multiple branches would mean some high street branches remain closed.
Day, managing director of consultancy of Integra Property Services, told EYE: “I wouldn’t be surprised if 25% of high street branches don’t reopen.
“That doesn’t mean firms will disappear but they will have downsized and realised they can cover a territory from one location.
“Some firms will be better placed to reopen but others are living hand-to-mouth anyway.
“Once they have got over the initial shock, agents need to turn their minds to what their business will look like in the future.
“After two to three months of working from home many agents may realise the costs of some high street branches aren’t necessary.
“The public is also getting used to doing things on Zoom rather than having to make their way to the high street and worry about parking charges.
“There will be a big paradigm shift.”
Day also predicted that agents will come to rely less on portals and may choose to use just one rather than all three due to a combination of costs and “realising who the customer is.”
He added that the agency clients he works with haven’t lost sales yet, adding: “In the main people are saying we are all the boat, they will wait two to three months.
“It may be different if this all lasts for six months to a year.
“If agents are working with up to speed solicitors those sales will still progress and will exchange and complete once contracts can move around
“Agents will then get a cashflow boost once the lockdown measures are removed and at that point we have to see how the market recovers.”