In a world today that is slowly being taken over by social media, do Estate Agents need to adapt to what is the perception that the public seem to be crying out for?
The growth of smart phones in recent years has meant that now over a third of consumers browse on mobile devises, so much so that we are seeing changes all over the world from thousands of new apps being released every month for every need to even our everyday street crossings being adapted to alert those constantly glued to their smart phone. So the question is, should Estate Agents be doing the same?

In this age of technology and with such a huge emphasis on the online world, is just advertising on property portals enough? This year has seen trials of social media marketing with the online giant Facebook. Most recently, a vendor with a property to sell in London decided to instruct an online based Estate Agent to host a Facebook live video viewing. This video was broadcast on Facebook for anyone to log in and view, who could ask questions as they went and also directing the camera to certain preferred shots. Viewers were then able to post any subsequent questions in the commenting section to be answered by the agent and then encouraged to make offers via the online messenger. Some potential purchasers argue that this is a much more convenient way of viewing properties, you can sit in the comfort of your own home, or pop out on a short break from work to a quiet corner where you would be able to view a property that could be on the other side of the country. This begs the question, are we now assuming that every homebuyer firstly has access to a mobile device or desktop and secondly, is a user of Facebook? If not, then it turns out to be extremely inconvenient. Baring this in mind, are we then in turn excluding a vast amount of potential buyers who are simply unable to see inside the front door? Setting these issues aside, do the buyers not feel the need to step inside possibly one of the most expensive purchases they will ever make? If they do eventually view the property in person following an accepted offer, what if they then realise that the all-important dresser won’t fit in the dining room or if a main road in close proximity to the property is incredibly audible from the rear garden which was not picked up on in the video. Do these purchasers then withdraw from the purchase with the repercussions for the vendors of having wasted their time and money? Probably.

The quick and cheap draws of online Estate Agents and social media marketing seem to cast a shadow over the work that Estate Agents do to not only gauge market conditions whilst the property is for sale, adapting their strategy where necessary, but the negotiating of offers and the ongoing overseeing of the progression of the sale during conveyancing. There have been many times where many ‘traditional’ Estate Agents have been working with a chain of seven or eight properties where it is a continuing effort from all involved to ensure that all is progressing well, surveys are carried out in a timely manner and in the unfortunate situation of a withdrawal or price reduction request, an experienced and personable Estate Agent will know exactly how to manage such a stressful situation for the vendors. These factors are all helped by having a friendly familiar face within a short distance from your property who can offer advice where necessary. ‘Traditional’ Estate Agents will always believe that their office provides a sense of comfort and security for their clients. The vendors know exactly where their Estate Agent is if they have a quick query or require assistance with understanding their solicitors ‘jargon’. Unlike an online agency or the world of social media, the local Estate Agents will continue to offer a professional and friendly face which, during such a significant and sometimes stressful period of a vendor’s life, is worth its weight in gold!

Helen Dodd

Associate Director, JCP Estate Agents