Should Estate Agents Have a Street Presence? This is what home buyers say.
A portion of homebuyers thinks everything should be kept as digital as possible.
The finding comes from new research revealing that home buyers are divided on whether estate agents need to maintain a physical presence on Main Street in this modern home buying era. While 54% do not consider branches to be important, a significant 46% do.
With feedback so close to a 50/50 split, the data seems to support those who say that branch offices and a street presence remain vital to the real estate agent’s business model. However, other findings, in many ways, justify the opposite argument.
For example, while nearly half of home buyers consider a branch to be important, 53% say that they did not enter their real estate agent’s branch or office during the course of their most recent buying trip.
In fact, only 38% say they have reasons to visit a branch “once or twice,” while only 9% visit it “quite often.”
These data suggest that while consumers still consider branches to be important, it is not because they directly facilitate the sales process.
For example, only 6% of home buyers say they discovered the home they eventually bought through a real estate agent’s branch window, and 5% discovered it through a For Sale dashboard. This leaves 70% finding their future homes online and 18% responding with “others.” Examples of the latter will be word of mouth, auction, and direct purchase from the seller.
If the sale’s facilitation is not the core value of the branches, the different types of value that a physical presence on the main street provides should be considered. These likely include brand recognition, trust, and authority, all of which are particularly important to agents operating in tight-knit communities, all of which are sure to help drive sellers’ business for whom branches can be more important than to the buyers.
Virtual visits are an indispensable tool.
Despite this, a particularly striking element of the research that WiggyWam conducted says that 75% of home buyers, when they think of eventually selling to finance future purchases, would happily ditch physical branches if it meant that agents had less overhead to cover and could, therefore, reduce your rates.
WiggyWam CEO Silas J. Lees MRICS says:
“Due to the lockdown, many agents have been operating an appointment-only system, so it is not surprising that many recent buyers have not made much use of the branch.”
“However, we also know that the entire high street retail sector was struggling before Covid and has been really abused ever since. Even the biggest names in retail are pulling out of physical operations.”
“Yet at the same time, some retailers are enjoying great success on High Street and, in most cases, they are the ones that have changed the strategic value of their physical retail units. It’s about time agents started doing the same, finding a way to create a branch experience that can’t be replicated online.”
“To this end, multidisciplinary branches are where the smart money is; agents, attorneys, surveyors, etc., all under one roof, all working together to create an efficient buying and selling process. Given the number of law firms, for example, that are likely to fail as a result of the pandemic, this type of consolidation offers a genuine option for the future.”
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