Estate agents are learning from online rivals, says Richard Skinner of Westcoast Properties

Richard Skinner

Richard Skinner - Credit: Archant

The appeal to vendors of online agents’ fixed-fee business models is easy to appreciate but are there lessons to learn for estate agents from internet counterparts?

The appeal to vendors of online agents’ fixed-fee business models is easy to appreciate. With the perception of a lower cost to the seller, online agents launched in recent years to much fanfare.

However, with several of them ceasing to trade or experiencing a reduction in share price, it seems that the online-only approach is now being called into question. Why is this, and are there lessons that can be learned by estate agents from internet counterparts?

“A good estate agent will be exceptionally proactive when selling your home,” Richard Skinner of Westcoast Properties in Weston explains.

Activities such as screening buyers, accompanied viewings, gathering feedback and encouraging offers, negotiating on behalf of both seller and buyer and doing everything to keep the, often complex, chains moving are all tasks that a quality agent will undertake. The approach of the online agent tends to be more passive, which could explain why traditional agents have maintained such a healthy share of the property market.

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“With most house hunters beginning their property search online, having a strong digital presence is crucial,” Richard says.

“As well as our own website, we list our vendors’ homes on portals Rightmove and On The Market, helping our customers reach a huge audience.”

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Harnessing the networking benefits of social media also works.

“We have generated a lot of success recently with videos showcasing the interiors and surroundings of property we are listing,” Richard says.

“People view and share these, and this, combined with the use of specific hashtags and key words, helps spread property details further.”

Traditional estate agents, have the advantage of being able to use the power of the internet alongside the face-to-face service they have always offered from bricks-and-mortar branches.

Richard agrees: “If you prefer to do business in person, with our local high street branches you can come in and have a chat.”

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