Estate agency – who pays the bills?

Ed Mead

Old fashioned agents, certainly when I was starting out, were very clear on what you meant when you used the word client – it was the seller, obviously. This despite the fact that buyers are the ones negotiators tend to form bonds with – stands to reason, you spend hours with them, travelling to meet them, scouring the market and what do they pay you for all this – nowt.

Consumers is a ghastly TV watch dog inspired word, but most commercial companies now use it. Of course, agents are unusual insofar as our consumers don’t actually pay for the service we provide.

It’s a dichotomy many struggle with, especially given most negotiators will ‘side’ with their buyer when trying to get a deal done.

But where does the ongoing balance of power lie and will client or consumer define where estate agents concentrate their spend going forward.

It’s been heartening to see OTM looking to improve the consumer’s journey and for portals that’s got the be the way to attract more buyers and renters. For agents it’s surely about what buyers and renters want – there’s very little that can be done better to present a property. The improvement will come from how the agent interacts with the buyer or tenant and that is what needs to change.

There is a new generation of agent coming through that fully twigs – they are after all millennials themselves and were the first born into an immediate service environment. For many older agents reacting has been counter intuitive. The ultimate expression of buyer first has been illustrated by Strike – who will sell your property for free on the basis that it then services buyers. Knockers probably need to take note that they are, by some margin, the fastest growing agent out there, so they’re clearly getting something right.

I struggle to see how servicing a seller can get any slicker – but there’s a huge amount more work to do before buyers get what they are used to as consumers elsewhere.



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One Comment

  1. Woodentop

    The trouble with ‘new generation operations’ are focused at the vendor or landlord as the income providers as they work out of their bedrooms, unable to fully service the buyer’s and tenants. No personal contact to develop relationship when everything is IT. For decades the successful agent is in the high street, in plain view and able to communicate face to face with ‘consumers’ no matter who they are. That is why the high street still outshines the bedroom people and will continue to do so. ‘Referrals’ business is no chance thing and developed by a relationship which can last for decades and snowball.


    The consumer likes to see a face, its gives confidence in all manners of ways and not just our industry. The public are (and have been) for a very long time fed up with no personal contact and call centre syndrome which after all was not for them but the business.


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