Logo for Cheshire and Co, Estate Agent - changing times for estate agents

Changing times for local estate and letting agents

This week MD of Cheshire and Co, Gareth Cheshire gives his views on the new on line world and how this will continue to change the high street agent.

As regular followers of the original NP property blogger will testify, The Chesh is not prone to moments of self-congratulation or uttering ‘I told you so’… on this occasion though, I do feel that it would not be in the public interest to hide ones light under a bushel (stop sniggering at the back).

When Cheshire & Co opened in 2011 in a small village outside the heaving metropolis of Cwmbran, many people questioned my sanity. They may still do so, but not because of our chosen business location. In the following 7 years other agents have opened in the town centre with the accompanying eye-watering rent – where are they now?

Buying, selling, letting or renting

Where The Chesh leads, others follow; increasingly cash-strapped ‘traditional’ estate agencies should consider abandoning their High Street offices to relocate to lower profile and more affordable alternatives opines Ben Taylor, managing director of Keller Williams UK. As consumer behaviour changes and increasing amounts of property transactions are conducted online, frequently outside office hours, the need for a 9-5 (is that Dolly Parton I can hear?) high street estate agency is increasingly reduced. Ben continues, ‘…people no longer need to visit a high street office when buying, selling, letting or renting… Agents sitting in an office waiting for people to come in are wasting valuable time’.                   Indeed they are Ben; did you lift that straight from one of The Chesh’s previous blogs?

Location, location, location

Keller Williams (KW) have been operating in the US since 1983 but is new to the UK. Interesting that it takes a Yank to point out what has been going wrong with a very un-American way of doing business. KW itself runs from serviced offices that it calls ‘market centres’ (I think this is akin in description to somebody needing to pee requiring a ‘comfort break’). These serve as bases for co-working office space, training and mentoring. Mr KW has again been reading The Chesh’s notes when he says that it is still important for agents to have office space to work from and meet clients in a professional environment. But crucially, there is no need ‘for an expensive presence on the high street’.

Trust The Chesh

This is referring to the estate agency office, not any property that they may be marketing. With the advent of online estate agencies offering a DIY low fee service, agents have been dragged into a fee war. If the base costs are lowered, then fees can drop accordingly and profit margins can be maintained, if not increased. Mark my words –said the Delphic oracle (classical studies was never top of the list at Fairwater Comprehensive) the next target will be the portals themselves. You want to buy a house? Everyone uses the behemoth that is Rightmove. In all honesty who, when wanting to buy a property, chooses one being marketed by a particular agent because of the ‘meet the team’ blurb on their website and how they sponsor the local Under 14 boys Croquet Club. Really? Trust The Chesh, the portals will be next.