What does future of estate agency look like?
But it’s something we’ve all got to think about if we’re not less than five years away from retiring to a small town in the south of Italy to grow our own olives (maybe that’s just my idea of a decent retirement).
Our game hasn’t changed all that much over the past 30 years. Sure, there’s been a movement away from buyers and sellers walking into an office to view details or sit with an agent to discuss the sale of their property - the portals have all but killed this facet of the job - but for the most part the process remains very similar. Buyers and tenants still enquire, agents still qualify, viewings still take place and offers are still made. Even the fees haven’t changed all that much (except the recent cases of heavy discounting out of sheer desperation). I have described our industry as being stuck in a time warp before and I’m sticking by that.
Maybe that’s why there aren’t many agents too focused on the next 30 years.
But here’s the thing: they should be.
Hell, every agent should be focused on the next FIVE years. There’s change afoot, and if you can’t see it coming, you’re going to be left behind.
The internet changed things back in the early 2000s when the portals (maybe that should just say portal) meant anyone could see what they could buy or rent without ever having to talk to an estate agent. This is a big reason why property became such an obsession (and a curiosity) for many punters out there. Who has the time to walk up and down a high street and have the same conversation with 15 different agents when they were merely nosing on their neighbours? No one (although I’m sure some reading this will no doubt have that one crazy person they actively avoid when they see them looking at the window cards).
On the other hand, everyone’s got time to browse 20 properties per page on a portal, just to see what’s out there, and self-appraise their own home at the same time.
So then, portals are still the here and now and have been for nearly 20 years. What’s next then?
Back to that tough question.
There isn’t one answer to it either. There’s a lot of noise around artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, chat bots, big data, automated marketing funnels - it’s an almost endless list.
But there’s one thing above all else that will shape the future of our industry: You.
Agents have all the power in the world to radically impact the way property is bought, sold, rented and used more than anyone or anything else out there.
All the talk I am hearing is what is the right technology to make an agent's life easier? That’s a fair question, but for me the real question is what can agents do to make their clients lives easier?
What does the future of estate agency look like?
Less agents, serving bigger markets, making more money.
That’s what I honestly believe. Every single great agent I know is focused on three things in their business.
They’re doing the job faster for their clients.
What does that mean? Knowing more about their product and their markets to get asking prices right sooner, and having the crucial conversations sooner in the process, instead of hiding behind false viewing numbers. They’re telling the truth. No matter how brutal. These agents are telling their clients how it is and ensuring they know they’re getting the truth because they care - not because they want a fee.
They’re making it easier for their clients.
Easier to contact them, easier to enquire, easier to make an offer, easier to negotiate, easier to request maintenance, easier to get an updated market appraisal, easier to move.
They’re being world class agents for their clients (are you seeing the trend yet!?).
What does world class mean? It means calling when you say you’re going to call. It means showing up early. It means following a process, not promising a price. It means taking the time to get to know the person and the circumstance, rather than just valuing a property. It means having the right tools in your arsenal to complement your own knowledge and improve your client experience.
World class agents aren’t cheap and they definitely don’t discount their fee just to win the business. World class agents don’t walk in five minutes late and tell the seller how busy they were. World class agents don’t tag three extra properties onto a viewing tour knowing full well the client won’t like them just to get their viewing numbers up.
So what does future of estate agency look like?
Tough question. Nothing less than world class.