A veteran lettings expert says most rental activity will soon be online and conducted outside office hours - a further boost to the online business model.
Apropos, a UK-wide lettings firm, states that half its transactions now occur outside office hours with more people willing to view properties and agree contracts in the evening and at weekends.
The trend has been moving this away before the pandemic but has gathered pace in the past year according to David Alexander, joint chief executive of Apropos.
“Just as more people are consuming everything in their lives online, the property market is going the same way. A year ago, most in our industry would have doubted that potential buyers and renters would have been willing to only view properties remotely whereas now it has become the norm” says Alexander.
“They are happy to view remotely, deal and discuss the property remotely, and sign the contracts remotely. We are living in a digital age and the acceptance and trust that people hold for digital transactions is now extremely strong.”
He continues: “The recent mergers in the property market reflect these changes as large firms try to consolidate their positions through cost cutting measures.
“A larger firm will have lower overall costs through administrative savings, but they will also need to close underperforming or duplicated branches in favour of the more profitable.
“But the bigger picture is that the High Street is undergoing major reorganisation and the need for a bricks and mortar presence is lessening as the years go by. In five years’, time will every High Street have several estate and letting agents? I seriously doubt it.”
Alexander says whatever ‘normal’ is for the lettings market in future has yet to be identified, but he believes the online business model has been the big winner of the last year and will continue to grow.
“Buying and renting property will be conducted mainly online for the bulk of the process at any time of the day or night or period in the week. Local advisors will need to be available to provide face to face advice, but it is unlikely that a UK-wide network of outlets will be required to service the sector in the future.”