Since 2011, online agencies such as Purplebricks, Tepilo, Yopa and Emoov have taken business from traditional estate and letting agents all around the UK. Online agents increased their market share to 6% in 2017 - an increase of 61% year-on-year.
Mohammed Wasity, director of Canary Properties in Central London, argues that to ensure the longevity of the High Street agent, it is vital to provide a service online agents cannot.
Mohammed has identified the areas to provide value to his customers where online agencies can’t in order to combat the effect they’ve had on his business. Offering quality services and ensuring customer satisfaction means new and old customers are willing to pay the often higher fees quoted by High Street agencies:
“They can reduce their prices, purely because they do not have as may costs as us. We cannot compete with prices like these ... People that have let their property from us, we want them to give us another property. People who have rented through us, we want to them to keep renting through us. By offering a quality and trusted experience, that’s what differentiates us from the online agencies.”
Mohammed has also prioritised developing and maintaining an engaging social media strategy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The result has been a larger exposure to those who are accustomed to an online community.
Websites, social media and digital platforms can help letting agents to compete with online agencies, by providing the 24/7 service that customers expect.
“It’s important we maintain very good contact with our clients and give them the option to engage with us 24/7,” says Jamie Evans of Billingham Taylor. “Social media platforms and technology allow them to do so.”
Simon Buckingham from Wallers Estates Agents believes being actively involved in the local community is a way to set online and high street agencies apart.
“We get involved in the community quite a lot, sponsoring local sports teams, local schools and fairs, and we feel that that differentiates us from other corporate agencies. We feel that this benefits us because we are localised to our community and we know our local area very well and get involved with the people that count, who are the people next door to us and down the road from us.”