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Online Over Tradition: How Can High Street Agents Stand Apart From Their Online Equivalents?

Property Technology Blog

In recent weeks, the debate has been raging about who offers the more superior service. Is it online agents or their high-street counterparts? And most importantly, can they co-exist together?

High street agents are dealing with another blow, as local newspaper circulations continue to decline. With figures plummeting by 11.2 per cent year on year, some critics are asking: where can the traditional letting agent go next? [1]

Flexible Living

The advantages of being Online

On the face of it, the transient online model is hard to compete with. For starters, it’s instantly accessible. The quick and inexpensive turnover of actions means that online agents can update their portfolio instantly. Meaning, if the site’s run well, potential tenants have access to the latest properties immediately. This method of property-hunting not only suits the flexible style of service that consumers are increasingly expecting. It also means that tenants don’t waste precious time falling in love with properties that have already been rented.

Aside from the no-brainer fact that there are a HUGE number of people online (it’s estimated there are 2.8 billion internet users worldwide); agents are also guaranteed a broader yet more engaged audience than the traditional high street agent. Why? Apart from increased exposure, online agencies can better position themselves to their virtual audience.

Agile online agents can also influence their reach by incentivising existing clients to write good reviews and promote their services, guaranteeing them more custom in the long-term.

Most importantly, online agents are open all hours (Rightmove says its busiest time of the year is Christmas Day) in a way that traditional high street agents don’t have the manpower to be. [2]

You Can't Beat An Expert

The advantages of being Offline

But despite these inbuilt advantages, there are some spots that even the most effective online agent can’t hit, the most important being a sense of legitimacy.

As our internet use grows more sophisticated, so too do the scams that riddle it. Internet sales site, Gumtree, has been beset by phoney landlords placing adverts on it. Whilst property portal Rightmove was also recently targeted by scammers, who sent out personalised emails which demanded users pay deposits to view their dream properties. [3]

Simply put, the physical presence of a high-street agent adds to it an air of authenticity. As Sean Amner, a WinkWorth franchisee states, “the key benefit of using a good, local traditional agent is their proactive sales approach." [4]

Traditional agents have the edge when it comes to offering local knowledge and guided viewings. Although the more effective online agents offer local area breakdowns and can organise viewings for their clients, they don’t attend them and often don’t have a specialist knowledge of the area they operate in. Because of this, high-street agents can offer a more personalised hands-on experience.

What’s The Solution?

We don't believe it comes down to standing out or keeping up. Instead, it is a hybrid approach that remains the most effective way to offer the best of both worlds. High street agents who haven't already developed a stellar web presence, should make sure that their websites are tablet compatible (50 percent of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices). An effective social media presence could also mimic the online agent’s referral system.

It All Comes Down To Perspective

Online agents are savvy at using technology to their advantage and there’s no reason why high street agents can’t also. The key is to not view technology as a competitor, but rather as a tool that can streamline your workload and in turn enhance your service levels.

For example, repair reporting software Fixflo allows traditional agents to offer the 24-hour approach that their online rivals do so well. Additionally, the tailored communication and swift repair resolution that Fixflo provides, allows high street agents to provide the on-demand service that tenants have come to expect in an agent, on or offline.

After all, when the tech's taken care of, high street agents are free to focus on the irreplaceable: the human touch.

If talk of the Fixflo system has piqued your interest, why not book a free demo? Our team are always here to answer any questions you may have.



[1]  https://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/features/2017/3/read-all-about-it-will-agents-continue-to-advertise-in-print
[2]  http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/rightmove-traffic-sets-new-record-up-22/
[3]  https://www.lettingagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2016/3/rightmove-site-given-go-ahead-after-experts-investigate-lettings-scam
[4]  http://www.propertyindustryeye.com/high-street-agents-bring-much-more-to-the-table-than-onliners-claim/


Zahraa Valu

Written by Zahraa Valu

Fixflo Plus | PropTech | Letting Agent Blog | Letting Agent Tips | Repairs and Maintenance Software

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