High street agents rising to the challenge during the pandemic

Property Reporter
4th February 2021
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Despite having to work in challenging conditions, it seems like traditional bricks and mortar estate agents are outperforming their online rivals during the pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

All in one property platform, WiggyWam, has revealed that the vast majority of home movers are opting for the help of a traditional high street agent, while a higher percentage chose to go it alone with a DIY sale rather than use an online or hybrid agent.

Recent market analysis of home sellers shows that 88% of people who have recently moved home hired a traditional high street estate agent to lead the process. 8% of respondents said they completed their last home move without the help of any agent whatsoever, while only 3% used an online or hybrid agent such as Purplebricks.

It’s clear that, during the Covid-19 pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns, traditional estate agents have become the defacto choice for home movers who are looking for help to navigate an unusually busy and pressurised housing market.

The research also found that estate agents have risen to the task during some of the trickiest market conditions in history. 72% of those surveyed said their agent performed either very well (35%) or to a satisfactory level (37%). Just 15% said they were disappointed by the service their agent provided.

When asked what they would do to improve the experience of using an estate agent, the old age debate around estate agent fees ranked top, with 21% saying they would reduce the number of fees that agents charge.

14% said they would improve the overall standard of service, 11% want better communication, and 10% wish it had taken less time to find a buyer.

While agency fees do top the list, there are still 79% of home movers who don’t consider fees to be too high. This goes against the common media narrative that high street agents charge too much and thus push more and more people to try cheaper online alternatives.

Instead, it appears that in this time of isolation and uncertainty, there is no substitute for the guiding hand and expertise of fellow human beings.

Silas J. Lees MRICS, WiggyWam CEO, says: “At a time when one would expect online agency to be thriving, traditional agency is proving itself, once again, utterly indispensable. These findings come at the end of the most challenging year agents have faced in decades and yet people still overwhelmingly choose a highstreet agent above all else. There is no more glaring vote of confidence in traditional agency than this.

“Whatsmore, with customers so delighted with the work of agents, it highlights again the problems being caused by archaic and sluggish conveyancing processes causing a bottleneck as we fast approach the stamp duty deadline. Agents deserve better. The public deserves better.

“We all love to save money and so it’s no surprise that lower fees were the biggest area of improvement. However, just 21% of sellers would like to pay less which suggests while we love to pick up a bargain, the fees charged by the High Street are proportionate to the service delivered.

"This echoes the findings of our recent Movers & Shakers Survey for 2020 which stated highstreet agents were able to charge higher fees than their online counterparts, some by orders of magnitude.

“Higher commission rates are certainly not the stumbling block most would perceive them to be. We feel now more than ever, people want to be handheld through a stressful and turbulent home move and call upon the many year's of experience of High Street agents to help them navigate these uncertain times.”

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