The pulchritudinous Ms Beeney graced the pages of the property news this week. Again. Whilst I would always be pleased to view her ‘come hither’ simper, it was especially welcome this week as a break from being assaulted from every quarter by the barbate/too lazy to shave (you all know my views on beards), character who is now the leader of the Opposition. I would imagine my reaction to his omnipresent visage is not dissimilar to that of Team Burnham, Cooper, Kendall, Reed, Hunt, Umuna et al as they run screaming for the hills/to apply for that extremely well-remunerated consultancy role, preferably on the other side of the Pond. I digress. The reason for the lovely Sarah (for any female, bra-burning human rights lawyers who may be reading this, I am guilty as charged), making a not unwelcome reappearance was yet another article reporting the rise of online estate agents and more pertinently for those of us who still have an office, why vendors should choose to sell their house through such an agency. The headline asked, “So could an online estate agent save you a fortune?” Money Mail, Daily Mail, Wednesday 15 September 2015 Well of course they could, only the wilfully ignorant would dispute the point; they could also cost you an awful lot of money as well. Not forgetting that the amount of savings made is determined by what fee an office-based agent had planned on charging and what they planned to do/the vendor expected for the money. The author of the article, Victoria Bischoff clearly limits her research to a particular demographic as she cited the average fee of an agent being 1.5% rising to 3.5%. I would be delighted to tout for business in the idyll that she inhabits. According to Ms Bischoff, online agents now have 4% of the market. As at 0650 hours this morning, there were 354 houses fully available for sale in the NP44 area. Using Ms Bischoff’s figures, that should be 14 houses listed with online agents. There is 1. The article quotes Paula Higgins CEO of the Homeowners Alliance (very Corbynesque), who states that “Online agents are fast becoming mainstream” ibid Whilst her point is factually inaccurate in relation to Cwmbran, I do accept her rationale. She elaborates further, “… and they are only going to get more popular” ibid Well it would be statistically impossible to be less popular than they are already in the Cwmbran locale as zero is not recognised. Where she is on the money is when she says, “..and this is the high street agents’ own fault.” Spot on. The reason many high street (or any side street for that matter) agents have such a bad reputation is because it has been deservedly earned. I do believe that the presence of online agents will increase and this is for several reasons: 1. People always want to spend as little as possible and anything that promises the world for a fiver will always appeal. Think budget airlines; you want to go somewhere as cheaply as possible, having paid £4.50 for a ticket you are herded into a metal box that in a previous life was used for flying fake dog turds into Taiwan and your baggage allowance would not cover the wardrobe of a pole dancing dwarf. You arrive at your destination bedraggled, craving alcohol/nicotine/amnesia, vowing NEVER to use that airline again, but you do. Why? Because it was cheap. And why was it cheap? I think we’ve already answered that one. The second reason is that many high street agents and the pressure of being part of the corporate beast means that they cannot survive by selling houses alone. Here at Cheshire & Co, a wholly independent agency shorn of the shackles of corporate estate agency we have no need to try and flog packaged mortgage schemes, packaged solicitors’ schemes, guaranteed rental payment schemes and any other gimmick that can bolster the revenue stream by our recommendation earning us a kick back from the provider. I am a firm believer that all agents should embrace every nuance of modern technology to enhance the service that they provide. But integral to this service are the customer-facing traditional values on which business relationships have been successfully facilitated through the ages. We provide a service that somebody requires. Whoever it is that wants our service, pays for the provision and we are bound through the core values that we espouse to deliver to the very best of our ability. Just like Jeremy has assured his comrades.