Online estate agencies have no long-term future, says report

11/02/2020 12:35:59

The impact of online estate agencies appears to have peaked and they’re no longer considered a threat to the traditional property sales industry, a new report has revealed.

Few agents are worried by the ‘online agent threat’, according to the study by Goodlord, while most believe technology will benefit the high street sector more in the long run.

A series of negative media stories about Purplebricks, which charges home sellers a fixed, up-front fee and the collapse or decline of several high-profile websites including eMoov, Tepilo, Upad and Hatched have changed perceptions about online agencies, the report says.

Over half of estate agents surveyed said they expected technological and social changes over the next two decades to have a positive impact on them professionally.

Only 37% thought such changes would have a negative impact, while technological progress itself was seen as a force for good by the vast majority of respondents.

Some 24% considered technological progress to be ‘strongly a force for good’ with 47% saying they considered it to be ‘somewhat a force for good’.

Only 7% of respondents said that they felt technological progress was either ‘somewhat’ or ‘strongly’ a force for bad.

Purplebricks, which describes itself as a ‘hybrid’ property seller combining online tech and on-the-ground, self-employed agents, had a dire year in 2019

Valued at more than £1billion in 2017, its shares slumped following a disastrous international expansion campaign and its founders sold-up amid a cooling of the housing market south of the border.

By the end of the year, its stock was trading barely above its £1 float price of four years ago, putting a price tag of just £340m on the business.

Meanwhile customers who paid up-front fees to online estate agency eMoov before it went into administration last year, were left £1.5m out of pocket, an administrator’s report published last month revealed.

Administrators received 324 ‘unsecured’ claims totalling £2.82m, from trade creditors and customers who paid up-front.

The company collapsed after merging with rival Tepilo, founded by TV property show presenter Sarah Beeny, and online letting agency Urban.

The star of the Channel 4 show Help! My House Is Falling Down was left with a ‘complete wreck’ following the closure of eMoov, which owed £8.7m to Tepilo as part of an ‘intercompany loan’, according to documents.

Also owed money is media firm Northern & Shell Ventures, owned by publishing tycoon and former Daily Express owner Richard Desmond.

Paul Burns, Director of Scottish Property Centre Argyll, said: “Few people in the property sales industry believe that the online or hybrid models of estate agency are sustainable.

“Like all get-rich-quick schemes, they have a superficial appeal but they never last. For most people their home is their biggest asset and, when they go to sell it, they want a trustworthy professional with demonstrable experience and expertise, who knows the local market and can get them the best possible price.”

To obtain a free valuation of your home call your local Scottish Property Centre branch or visit www.scottishpropertycentre.net.  

 

 

 

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