Peter’s been writing about digital disruption in the property sector and what the traditional players must do to future-proof their position in an article for The Guardian newspaper, also reported in Estate Agent Today.
Writing for The Guardian in Home and dry: the high street estate agent of the future he talks about the online-only challengers like Purplebricks that can theoretically save customers time and money, and notes that though they currently only account for 4% of sales, this figure is set to rise to 50% by 2020.
In what Estate Agent Today calls 'a provocative but interesting read', Peter says: “It’s astounding that the estate agent industry hasn’t jumped at the chance to breathe new life into its often dull in-store experience. There is so much potential to make it more than the sum of its parts, and yet time and time again we see the same beige interiors, the same sad window displays and mountains of dreary paperwork being pushed back and forth over desks. To make matters worse, there is a lack of consistency in the service provided from branch to branch.”
He suggests that bricks and mortar estate agents look to the travel sector for inspiration on how to transform. “Take, for example, Thomas Cook. It has introduced virtual holidays in-store that inspire customers using immersive 360-degree tours of hotels and resorts via an Oculus Rift headset. Or Virgin Holidays, which has taken the concept of try-before-you-buy to a new level by allowing customers to peer through a Google Cardboard set.”
He finishes by predicting that future high street estate agents will be more flexible in their product and service offering, allowing them to become a one-stop shop for everything related to moving house. “Learning from examples of in-store innovation – with brands making visits to their physical stores engaging and enjoyable (and, crucially, one that can’t be achieved just by going online) – traditional estate agents will future-proof their position in the digital economy.”
In terms of business model it’s anyone’s guess if high street agents will carry on the way they always have done, or whether some or all of them might shift towards the disruptors, rivalling them for lower costs but perhaps able to offer a level of experience and reassurance their rivals can’t compete with. It seems that in property, there’s all to play for.
of all homes are expected to be sold online by 2020
The smaller fees of online agents may have the high street agents running scared but they’re ‘inferior for contact, know-how and trust’ according to research commissioned by The BIO Agency.
Rethinking the estate agent service and integrating digital is 'an open goal for whoever wants to take a shot at it'. That’s the view of BIO’s Chief Strategy Officer Justin Small.
The BIO Agency is currently working on digital transformation for a global estate agent.