Driving around Somerset yesterday, I was listening in to a debate on 5Live about online medical services and the proprietor of the company in question stated at one point that for him “The future is a hybrid model”. This set my tiny property brain going again, not least of which as Savills have recently invested in a hybrid agency (YOPA) and the Countrywide estate agency group has been recently trialling a hybrid service across several of its brands . (Countrywide statement – “Customers … will be able to select the level of advice and support that best meets their individual needs, in what will be a leap forward for the industry” )
The differences between various types of estate agent has been a hot topic in the media for a while, with heated opinions on all sides. The battle has often been billed as “traditional high street” vs “online” but this for starters is a pretty big misnomer as of course all estate agents are fully online these days.
The deeper differences, in my opinion, are often carefully left unmentioned or hidden in small print on the shiny television adverts for the Housesimples and Purplebricks of this world but I think the two main points are;
- As always, you pay for what you get – cheaper fees equal a limited selection of both marketing and assistance
- To access the really cheap fees, you will be required to pay up front, regardless of whether or not the service actually works
For what its worth, my opinion has always been that there is a place in the industry for every type of estate agent.
However, like any investment decision you would make, choosing what type of estate agent you need should be based on the same risk vs reward calculations that you’d apply to mortgages, pensions and suchlike.
If you want to minimise your risk (expenditure/fees), you’ll have to accept the rewards (level of assistance and consequently price achieved) will be lower.
In my view of estate agency, the future isn’t hybrid. To me, hybridisation is just dilution by another name. Customers know, in the main, exactly what they want and the types of estate agencies already exist for them to pick and choose what suits their risk tolerance.
Whether it is a full service estate agent offering a choice of a cheaper pared down scheme or an online agent bolting on paid extras to an up front fixed fee, the middle ground serves no-one in this case. In our experience, estate agents that concentrate on being the experts in their chosen sphere will be valued, chosen and recommended by clients for that expertise.
“Get it – get it better or get it worse. No middle ground of compromise.”
Henry Ossawa Tanner