With portals back dominating the property news agenda like it’s 2015 all over again, we posed questions on Rightmove’s potential ongoing dominance, the likelihood of Boomin shaking up the industry and whether or not Facebook or another tech giant would be entering the market soon.
Just over 41% of those surveyed said Rightmove will still be the dominant portal by the end of the 2020s, while 34% said they wouldn’t and a further 24.5% were don’t knows.
On the question of Boomin shaking up the industry in a Purplebricks-esque manner, only 19% agreed that the newly launched portal will change the sector, while just over 30% said the Bruce brothers’ new venture will have little impact. Most (52%) said Boomin will battle OnTheMarket for the title of third biggest portal and no more than that.
Respondents were much more split on the question of a Facebook or Amazon entering the estate agency arena, with 39% saying one of the global tech giants will enter the market eventually, while 40% think the current portals will remain dominant. A further 22% said property being a very different industry to Big Tech will put these major corporations off.
Most respondents (45%) believe there will be a move towards the portal middleman being cut out, and the likes of Rightmove and Boomin listing properties directly, but not a complete crossover. Only 19% think a complete crossover is inevitable, while 37% argued that the portals need agents.
Intriguingly, a big majority of those responding believe that agents will one day act for buyers as well as sellers. More than 56% said this model works fine elsewhere in the world and would do fine in the UK too, while 27% argued the current model is too ingrained for any wholesale changes. A further 19% said such a change would create more problems than answers.
Trade body membership and regulation
Despite its recent troubles, our survey found that the majority of agents (45%) are members of Propertymark, while a not far off equal number (36%) don't belong to any trade body whatsoever. Just 6% of those surveyed are members of the Guild, which might in part be explained by the more selective process employed by that organisation.
Just over 11% are part of an alternative trade body, with responses including Relocation Agent Network (RAN), the Property Ombudsman, RICS, UKALA, SafeAgent, FIA, the Law Society of Scotland and NRLA.
Some of those commenting said they were part of both the Guild and Propertymark, or part of one of these and another trade body, while some commented they were members of both ARLA and NAEA, which could further point to the issues that Propertymark has in being seen as the umbrella organisation for these two distinct subsidiaries.
One of the biggest potential changes to the industry, if and when it is introduced, is the recommendations of the Regulation of Property Agents Working Group (RoPA). There was near parity between those who think it will improve things and those who believe it will make things more complicated (23% vs 21%), but the overwhelming majority (56%) think we won’t know until the recommendations have been implemented.
Reputation, offices and viewings
Estate agents often get a bad press, but it seems many in the industry also believe the profession needs to up its game, with only 24% believing that estate agency is a respected profession. Nearly 30% believe the industry needs professionalising and fast, while just over half (51%) think the industry is going the right way but needs more training, regulation and qualifications.
The pandemic has hailed a step-change in many parts of life, in particular when it comes to office work and the rise in remote working. Some 43% of those surveyed said there will be a move away from high street offices over the coming years, a viewpoint disagreed upon by 32% of those polled.
A further 29% are of the opinion the hybrid model – ostensibly mixing the best of the traditional and online models to create a fusion of the two – will thrive in the coming years.
Virtual viewings have received a massive boost since the onset of the pandemic and seem to have finally made the move over from luxury nice-to-have to necessity. Some 46% of participants agree that virtual viewings are the future and have proved very helpful in the last year and a bit. However, 36% still think they will return to their previous position of niche nice-to-have, and a further 22% said the quality of virtual viewings varies too much.Who answered the survey?
The overwhelming majority of respondents belonged to a local independent firm (62%), closely followed by those working for a corporate (11%). Nearly 10% were self-employed – a fast-growing part of the sector – while just 5% were franchisees.
Other participants included retired agents, property developers, hybrid agents, agency support professionals, suppliers, surveyors, solicitor estate agents and industry advisers.
The majority of those responding to the survey were part of a single-branch independent (46%), followed by 20% who were part of or owned an agency with under five branches. Some 13% of those responding were part of an agency with more than five branches and just 9% were part of a firm with more than 100 branches. Others were part of Keller Williams-style hub offices or worked purely from home.
The vast majority of agents now offer both lettings and sales (77%), with only 16% doing just sales and an even lower 6% doing just lettings.
Most of the responses (36%) to the survey came from directors, followed by agency owners, branch managers, CEOs, negotiators and then admin staff.
Other people contributing included property managers, heads of sales, marketing professionals, sales associates, managing directors, supplier owners, property trainers, consultants and lettings managers.
For advice on local property matters or a valuation of your home please contact Peter Scott Estate Agents on 01494 870 633