Cashflow a concern for a majority of estate agency businesses – report

A survey of 100 senior estate agency figures, commissioned by Landmark Estate Agency Services (which is in the business of proptech for the estate agency industry), has been compiled into an ‘Estate Agents of the Future’ report, looking back at what lessons the pandemic has taught estate agents, as well as considering where improvements in businesses could be made, the appetite for technology adoption, and what the estate agent of the future might look like.

More than half of estate agents interviewed (56%) said they had a difficult financial year as a result of the pandemic, staffing issues have been a challenge for 61%, while 49% say there has been a lack of proptech investment at their firm during the pandemic.

More than three quarters (78%) of respondents said that working from home has made them appreciate the importance of software in their role and the wider industry.

The report examines the future of the estate agency profession in the near to mid-term and asked agents about their concerns for the coming year, as well as looking further out to 2025.

Of the current concerns, cashflow came out top with 58% saying it is a moderate or major concern for their business. Compliance and cyber threats are a major concern for 23% of the agents.

The survey asked agents to select the top three ways in which data and automation of administrative tasks will help improve the industry in the next four or five years.

50% said having more data up front would speed up transactions. 42% felt it would improve the customer service experience. 40% said it will help reduce admin tasks so that more time can be spent of selling more homes.

Looking to 2025 the survey found that 76% of the agents believe the residential property industry will see increased legislation. 78% think there will be more online/hybrid agents in four year’s time.

Ben Robinson, Managing Director of Landmark Estate Agency Services said:

“To capture the current sentiment in the estate agency industry, we commissioned an independent market research project, which interviewed 100 senior estate agents and three key areas of management concern really came through: people, proptech and processes.

“The last 18-months have really been a challenging time, what with managing resource amidst difficult conditions such as furlough, maintaining compliance and all while working through significant peaks.

“I believe this has sharpened agents’ focus on where real improvements can now be made – within the onboarding process an increased use of automation to replace many manual tasks – such as ownership and AML checks – come out as particularly strong themes.

“What is apparent throughout our research survey is a desire to improve the way we buy and sell houses and we believe we’ll see real change over the next two years, with the pandemic actually being a catalyst for change.”

To download a copy of the Estate Agents of the Future report, click here.

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9 Comments

  1. JWVW

    Who are these companies with cashflow worries?! We’ve just had two record breaking years for house sales in the UK. Most well run businesses should be awash with wonga.

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    1. Robert_May

      80% of instructions go to about 20% of agents, If one deep dives into the numbers, the wads of wonga  isn’t evenly distributed.

      About 1/3rd of agencies currently have no available properties and 3 or 4  agreed sales that are stuck in chains that have been sale agreed for far longer than normal. One agent I was talking to this week fully expects half their record breaking pipeline to fall through taking with it  £100k of commission.

       

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    2. Neil Robinson

      A bit short sighted, that, JWVW.

      Speaking from personal experience, it’s not the sales volumes that are the problem. Our pipeline is comparatively enormous.

      The issue contains several other factors. One of which is what we couldn’t physically work for 3 months last year, and buyers weren’t buying for the first 3 months of this. The other, bigger, factor is that there was bottleneck with banks, surveyors and solicitors, exacerbated by the fact that buyers themselves were bottlenecked, which created a mini-boom.

      This has meant that whilst we’re all busy, it’s taking far longer to get paid than normal.

      “Cash-flow” and “income” are two totally separate things. Income isn’t the problem, but cash-flow is.

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      1. JWVW

        Fair point – I guess it depends where you are in the UK too. But I don’t know of any Agent with cash-flow issues or income worries right now. As we roll through 2023/4, things may change!

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        1. Neil Robinson

          We haven’t, to be fair, as we’re (hopefully) past that point now. But we’re a relatively new business and I had to fund it for slightly longer than I anticipated. I can certainly see where agents who are struggling with cash-flow are coming from.

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        2. Robert_May

          Would you list a very long list JW?  Being where you are, selling what you do, your local patch is significantly different to some outcode areas where for example 60 agents  are sharing 300 listings (total) at an average value of £200,000, 73% are sale agreed.  25% of agents have  zero listings  25% have 1 available property.  The 2 properties under offer have been like that for months.

          £1500 a month to Rightmove  no longer only eats their profit it eats everything on the table too.

           

          I’m not trying to be negative or confrontational but I can see why cashflow  is a concern for a lot of agents, especially those paying a monthly subscription they cannot afford to list properties they haven’t got on the books

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    3. AgentQ73

      I would guess there will are large parts of the country where due to the average house price the Stamp Duty Holiday wont have had a massive impact.

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  2. krosotv

    Purplebricks ?

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  3. ValueCounts31

    Perhaps the concerns are stock levels being at record lows. Through 2021 this has been counteracted by high levels of demand, so in effect conversion of listings to sale has increased. As the market slows down, agents may find themselves with record low stock levels and demand relative to stock returning towards pre-covid levels. That could be the pinch point.

    Purple Bricks seeing listing levels dropping immediately impacts revenue by virtue of their model. In general a big portion of agents have found the same challenge with listings, but ultimately by virtue of no,sale,no,fee that doesn’t hit revenues till much later.

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