Online agents 'inferior for contact, know-how and trust' says survey

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A survey of over 2,000 people suggests that online estate agents lose out to their traditional counterparts in terms of public perception on the issues of ease of contact, knowledge of the local property market, and trust.

The research, conducted by digital consultancy the BIO agency, reveals that the most prominent reason for not using an onliner was that 27.5 per cent of respondents wanted a person to speak to during the transaction; some 18.3 per cent believed an agency with a local office would have greater knowledge of the area’s housing market, while ‘lack of trust’ was the third reason, cited by 13.5 per cent of respondents. 

it’s only a matter of time before Purplebricks et al begin to build brand reputation Justin Small, Chief Strategy Officer, The BIO Agency

Even so, some one in seven of the respondents claimed to have used an online agency in the past - a far higher proportion than many onliners themselves quote when describing the size of the sector, which is generally considered to be around five per cent of sales (or one in 20, rather than one in seven).

From those respondents who had chosen to use an online agent, the three main attractions were greater flexibility - cited by 21.5 per cent - followed by wanting a quick sale (17.4 per cent) and thinking that they themselves could do a better job than a traditional agent at marketing their property through an online platform (15.9 per cent).

The survey, conducted last month and involving 2,034 respondents, produced some an eye-brow raising result when it came to recognition of online agents.

Purplebricks was top with 43.2 per cent of respondents recognising the brand; easyProperty was third with 13.9 per cent. In second place, perhaps surprisingly, was SellMyHome on 18.2 per cent.

“Brand trust is key for some people and that will mean they will stick with traditional agents for now. But it’s only a matter of time before Purplebricks et al begin to build brand reputation through massive marketing spend and social media recommendations” claims The BIO Agency's Chief Strategy Officer, Justin Small.
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