All the signs point to tough times ahead for high street estate agents, as online firms undercut them on cost and deliver “the flexibility customers want”.
The claims were made in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph which said that online agents’ share of listings on Rightmove are now 7.1%, up from 2.4% in 2015.
The article also says that the average traditional agency fee is £4,300 and the average online agency cost is £633.
The article – which attributes to EYE a list of largest estate agency groups by property listings as at last December – says that while the online market is still relatively small, it is growing “at a rapid pace”.
The article, by Rhiannon Curry, goes on: “Some might say that it is not before time. Traditionally, high street estate agents have a bad reputation for poor service delivered by men in shiny suits who charge an exorbitant fee.
“They have suffered as rents and business rates increase their overheads, amid wider turmoil on the British high street that has seen shoppers move their business online.”
The full-page article quotes one seller who used Purplebricks and said it saved her over £12,000.
It also quotes a buyer who purchased through a local agent, Oliver Burn, in Stockwell, London, and was happy with its service. But the same buyer said she only looked for properties on Rightmove, and that it was “too much of a faff” to look in estate agents’ windows.
Russell Quirk, boss of the newly enlarged Emoov business, says in the piece that it had merged with Tepilo and Urban because the market needed to consolidate: “A lot of investors were only interested in backing one or two companies, and from a consumer point of view only the biggest firms command that credibility and trust.”
He also says that while online firms save consumers money, it is important that they “provide the same service and outcome – if not better – than a high street estate agent”.
Lee Wainwright, CEO of Purplebricks in the UK, said that there is significant scope for online firms taking market share: “I don’t think it will ever be 100% online and I do think there’s room for high street agents, but we think it will be 30% to 40% in the near term.”