They are part of our everyday lives, but will they be forever? we are asking what is the future for the property portals?
We wrote, earlier this year, this blog questioning the future of Rightmove. Many independent agents, Saxon Shore included, are frustrated by the ever-increasing costs of these portals and the low return on investment compared to other marketing strategies we use, we also wonder if users will continue to engage with these portals as new technology becomes available.
When Rightmove was first introduced they completely revolutionised Estate Agency. For the first time, buyers were able to see properties in their chosen area and price band in one place. It meant that when you were selling your home you knew that your property would be in front of a wide audience and not just reliant of your estate agents database of registered buyers and buyers being motivated enough to go out and buy the local paper or look in the estate agent’s shop window
It was incredible and simple. It was a breath of fresh air that the industry badly needed and it meant that everyone could view houses in any area from the comfort of their own home.
The down side was, that sadly, with less people walking through the door to register their interest, as they would call or email for a viewing instead agents started to loose the personal connection they had with buyers, they started to loose that understanding of exactly what they were looking for and as such many buyers would view property details online and discount them on the basis of poor photographs or a poor listing when this could have been their ideal home. In the days before Rightmove the agent would have built a relationship with the buyer and been able to recommend a viewing, the buyer would have trusted their opinion and at least gone through the door.
Even more sadly, Rightmove devalued the role of the estate agent in the public’s perception. Suddenly everyone was a “property expert” and the perception was that all agents have to do was take a couple of photo’s, a few measurements and stick it on Rightmove and the buyers came rolling in. In some cases, it did make agents less proactive, there isn’t a need to actively market a home if you are paying a portal to do it, focus instead on gaining instructions. Of course this action isn’t the best for clients and so the estate agents reputation sank lower the public’s eyes.
So why, if the portals have made life so easy for the agent, are we questioning value for money from the portals? do agents care that the public don’t have a very good opinion of them?
For most independent estate agents we care very much, and we don’t believe that the portals are working for our clients or us.
Now don’t get me wrong, one of my favourite pastimes before I became an estate agent (and is still the case today) was to scroll through the local properties in my local area, my friends are the same, who doesn’t love a bit of property porn whilst you are having a coffee or waiting for the train?
What’s not to love? Why wouldn’t they be around long term? The problem starts with me! I’m fickle and I’m busy! As technology evolves I want things faster and smarter, with less and less effort. If I’m just generally browsing I may switch apps, I may browse websites, I have no loyalty to any portal I will hurry off to what every website/app/social media channel will get me my latest fix of my property porn fastest with the least hassle.
As a buyer I want to be ahead of the competition and be the first to view the latest properties coming onto the market, I want the property that I am going to buy to come to me before anyone else gets to see it with as little effort on my part as possible.
And as an agent we want to make our property stand out from the competition and attract as many motivated buyers as possible and sell it in the shortest time, for the most money.
This is why, in the last few years, we have started to see both agents and vendors use other techniques to sell homes, videos, professional photography, social media etc. etc. As fast as the technology becomes available savvy agents and motivated buyers are adopting it, the portals are not keeping up or even adapting to the way we use technology, which is why, together with the financial squeeze they are putting on agents we think their days are numbered.
There may be many of you reading this that disagree, it’s hard to imagine how you would sell your home without portals, but there was a time when agents said portals wouldn’t work… And, we’ve been here before, in less than three years we have gone from a standing start to Faversham’s leading independent agent despite being constantly told that our ideas wouldn’t work. We were told we couldn’t market homes effectively without a shop front. We were told people wont buy or sell homes via social media, and of course the boards… they didn’t effectively market our business.
We believe this so strongly that there are better, more effective ways to get property in front of more buyers faster with the technologies that are becoming available that we have taken the decision we will be down to just one portal (perhaps less) by 2021.
Are we mad?