The times they are a-changin’

Simon Bradbury

I assume that for a number of younger readers the title of this piece will have no immediate resonance though they may agree with the sentiment, whilst ironically many “oldies” will recognise Bob Dylan’s classic song title but think that times are not changing in the world of estate agency.

My contention, as a 63-year-old agent with more than a few years of experience, is that not only are many things in the world of estate agency changing, but changing FAST and very importantly at an increasing pace.

In the past month I have attended various estate agency events both in person and online, advised a number of estate agent firms and individuals and have had some surprising experiences with my own (very) small agency and let me tell you – CHANGE IS ALREADY HAPPENING!

So what are the changes I have observed and will they continue at an increased pace in the months and years ahead? I would emphasise that, as is the very nature of recent changes, most of my suggestions do lack the necessary data and at best are supported by anecdotal evidence which can certainly be challenged. However, here goes for my FIVE predictions as to what IS changing now and what WILL increasingly change in the future…

Estate Agency Fees Are Going Up (And Will Continue To Do So)…

Finally, after literally years of complaining from agents across the country that their competitors (it’s always their competitors and never themselves!) the “other agents” are charging ridiculously low fees, I really get the impression that estate agency fees are already on the increase. I’ve experienced this myself in valuation appointments, seen it with some of the firms that I advise and there was even a reference to this in a recent article entitled Estate agency fees jump by a fifth.

It appears that agents are really beginning to value their services and, most importantly, so are their potential clients. Agents are starting to realise that low fees are simply unsustainable and MUST increase and survive – even thrive.

Self Employed/U.S Broker/ Licensed Models Are Increasing In Number (And Will Continue To Do So)…

I realise that this may be controversial but I do think that this really is happening across our industry already and, together with the franchise/licence model, will continue to gain traction. The economies of scale (often under appreciated in service industries), consistency of brand, I.T. support, training and proven successful processes are a very compelling proposition to individuals and firms looking to increase their profitability.

Companies like By Design, Fine & Country, as well as eXp (with whom I work) and numerous other local and regional brands like Preston Baker in Yorkshire are already demonstrating impressive levels of success using variations of the “self employed” model. I expect these models to become increasingly popular.

3 ) A.I. Is O.K.! ( And Will Continue To Get MUCH Better)…

I am already seeing agents use A.I. increasingly and with more effectiveness – even if they do not realise it. Frankly, it’s not just “OK”, it’s absolutely ESSENTIAL if your business is to move forward. Simply using ChatGPT to come up with sales descriptions is not enough. Already, the predictive capabilities of A.I. are becoming increasingly apparent and the winners in this field will be the agents that really know how to use this incredible technology.

Believe me when I say that Artificial Intelligence is going to transform estate agency in the future!

The Amount Of People Working Within A Branch Will Significantly Reduce (And Is Already Reducing)…

Of course, this depends on your definition of “branches” but however they are defined, there will be less people working within a branch/office. I am NOT predicting the end of High Street agency, far from it. I still anticipate that this will be the predominate model in the years ahead. It’s simply because of the increasing use of technology and outsourcing which brings with it huge irresistible efficiencies, cost savings and risk reduction. I’m not the only person that predicts this. At a recent industry event, I saw a presentation from the excellent Stella Nicol of the Street Group and she predicts that “Tech efficiencies and outsourcing will mean 50% fewer people per branch.”

Before anyone shouts that this contention is ridiculous because agency is a “people business”, I would say that it’s precisely BECAUSE we run a “people business” that these changes will happen at an increasing rate – providing estate agents with more time and resource to do what they do best… engage with people!

Within The Next 24 Months OnTheMarket Will Replace Zoopla (It’s already Happening!)…

Hey, I could be wrong about this one but here goes. I am NOT saying that this is good or bad but I see this as the direction of travel over the next 2 years -OTM may even go further and become Number 1 but in the next two years I would anticipate that OTM will become at least the second portal of choice for the consumer. And here’s another prediction (two for the price of one!, ) I expect them to rebrand (possibly even to merge with Zoopla!) under the HUGELY attractive domain name of, currently owned by OTM’s parent company the CoStar Group. Crazy? Maybe, but that’s what I can see happening.

So there we are… my 5 predictions. Please feel free to disagree, I will be very interested in any comments.

And finally, here are the final words to Bob Dylan’s first verse of that truly iconic song. Heed them well my friends…

If your time to you is worth savin’
And you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’



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  1. Robert_May

    If that deal does happen 3 portals becomes a duopoly again which would undo all Ian and Jason have achieved and such a move would instigate all the conditions that gave rise to OTM in the first place. I can’t see a single benefit or motivation for CoStar

  2. MikeyEn

    I disagree

    1. Robert_May

      what/ who are you disagreeing with Mikey? I’d love to hear the benefits of CoStar buying ZPG and reinstating the duopoly that allowed Rightmove to increase ARPA 8% more than the RPI each year or 5% above transaction price index.
      It would be certainly great for CoStar the business but very quickly the support for OTM would evaporate; agents have long memories and it wouldn’t take much to remind them of ZPG strong anti OTM stance. Duopolies have little benefits for customers.

    2. jan-byers

      fees are not going up in any area I develop in
      there is no way I would pay 2%
      Self employed model appeals to comapanies as they can pay even less
      Appeals to people who cannot get a job anywhere else
      Exp in Woking have 3 houses on the market – that is not a living

      1. John Murray

        Silly comment. Totally mis-understanding the model.

  3. Punch in The Face

    Good article Si.

    Things are changing. Theres no doubt about that. But the service isn’t. A client still wants to have a good service from their agent. They don’t mind if they deal with 1 person or 3 as long as that service is good and consistent.

    We have both models. And both work well.


    Decent article.

    Without doubt our industry is changing at a pace I certainly havent witnessed in my 30 plus year carrear.

    Communication via AI is at the forefront. Thankfully I work with a team of people who are ahead of the game and watch closley what happens in all parts of the world.

    One thing is for sure being fleet of foot in terms of deceision making is key especially in capitalising on those markets not everyone is seeing right now

    Fees-still a race to the bottom from the bigger corporate companies flogging an old buisness model.


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