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Property is Going Back to the Future

July 2021

We are bombarded constantly from advertisers, all vying for position to get in front of us with the sole purpose to make us buy. Not so long ago this was restricted to just newspapers, magazines and television. However nowadays you can overlay the plethora of social media platforms, websites, messaging apps, email and more, which are all relentlessly setting off our mobile phone notifications at all hours of the day.

Whilst this digital log-jam has created far reaching issues such as affecting our mental health, it has also created a problem from a property perspective. Just how can an agent compete for position and stand out with their clients’ homes, in the face of such an onslaught of other advertisers? Afterall, if you are trying to sell your home, your agent needs to be fighting with the best in the digital marketplace for online views of your home – or do they?

By far the biggest issue of the digital age is not only are people bombarded with information, but they are now fighting to clear their inboxes and the extreme is to go on a digital-detox. Whilst information has become easy to come by, it is equally as easy to go in to hiding. All digital marketing is faceless – there is no need to respond and agents have been fighting these last several years to try and turn the tables in order to take back control.

You see, whilst you can get a vast amount of ‘hits’ on your Rightmove property listing for example, at no point are the agents able to follow any of these individuals up. Viewers may have got the wrong impression or reached a hasty conclusion, but you will never know. Rightmove doesn’t hold the information and they have actually further restricted in recent years, the detail they give to agents behind the scenes. It is now somewhat meaningless how many hits you receive as a result. Buyers hide at their computer screens, idly flicking through information and the power is with them. If they wish to come out of their digital burrow and engage with the agent, then that is their choice only. No direct engagement with your buyers, means less likelihood of selling.

However, there has been a strong undercurrent in the market recently, which has been rapidly taking form, and that is the off-market sector. Vendors (and some agents) are becoming less in favour of having their details spread like confetti across the digital marketplace and which they have no control over. Instead the way forward, is to go back.

Hot buyer boxes have made a significant comeback with some agents and a need to know basis, where only those in the very best buying positions will be informed about a property opportunity. No longer can one wait for a property portal or social media notification to ping up with something relevant and for it to compete for your attention. The tide is turning.

A number of vendors now prefer a low-key marketing campaign where possible and it can also be used as a test of the agent, before going ‘live’ on to the open market if required. Vendors are now taking the place of their once reclusive buyers and go into hiding themselves. No marketing razzamatazz, no brochure details, just ‘old school’ communication in order to sell.

Phone calls, face to face meetings (yes all Covid compliant!) and a high quality bespoke service are all on the agenda. With mass volume transactions, hard sales and digital confetti firmly on the way out. Agents are equally concentrating on buyers who they know in more detail, plus are more likely to transact on a property. A low risk and secure buyer is usually worth more to agents (and vendors) than a bit more money, but a whole lot more faff and information in the digital sphere that is very hard to remove.

Estate agency has changed and ‘old school’ is well and truly back.

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