Even before the pandemic, the estate agency sector was evolving considerably as a younger generation started buying, selling and letting homes, while the adoption of tech in our daily lives started to infiltrate the moving process.
However, no-one could have predicted the impact the pandemic has had on the property market. Agents have had to adapt quickly to a world of virtual viewings, remote working and less face-to-face contact.
These changes have been taking place against a backdrop of an extremely busy market due to the stamp duty holiday and more people looking to move home post-lockdown. According to data from HMRC, UK residential transactions totalled 147,050 in February 2021, 48% higher than February 2020 and 23% higher than January 2021.
Although agents are having to adapt to a rapidly changing market, favourable conditions have created a wealth of opportunities. NAEA Propertymark recently reported that the number of properties sold over asking price reached the highest level since 2014 during March.
With this in mind, what are some of the key qualities the modern consumer is looking for in their estate agent?
A fast, efficient and personal service
A slow and inefficient process is often regarded as one of the main frustrations for home movers. A recent survey of movers, carried out by WiggyWam, found that 80% believe the process of buying a property has remained largely the same or worsened during their lifetime.
Therefore, agents need to be doing all they can to provide a speedy, efficient service. This could be achieved by automating key parts of the process, allowing consumers to complete admin tasks online and ensuring that as much upfront information is provided by all stakeholders as early as possible.
Another thing to consider is how people's living habits have changed in recent years and particularly as a result of the pandemic. Research from The ValPal Network found that 57% of estate agents' leads are generated outside of traditional working hours, with over a quarter made at the weekend.
A crucial part of being able to provide a fast and efficient service is being flexible and facilitating the home moving process to be carried out at a time which suits consumers.
Moreover, the core principles of estate agency remain equally important. Consumers want a fast and all-encompassing service, but being able to provide the personal touch can still be highly valuable.
Agencies which strike the balance between technology, efficiency and being seen as a true local expert can thrive in the modern market.
Effective use of technology
As the average age of movers starts to decline and a generation of renters become property buyers, sellers and landlords, agencies with a technology-first approach can achieve higher customer satisfaction.
One of the key changes brought about by the pandemic has been a surge in virtual viewings. Having a slick virtual viewing process has become essential, but agents can also impress tech-savvy consumers with dedicated apps, automated documents and comprehensive property data.
Another consideration is the move away from the high street. Further research from WiggyWam found that 53% of buyers never visit an agent’s office during a transaction.
Modern agents need to ensure they have the infrastructure in place to complete seamless remote transactions, as well as a physical presence for those who require it.