I believe estate agencies will become obsolete, and agent platforms will replace them.
To stay relevant, modern agencies will need to shift their mindset of being an agency that has agents work for them, to realising that they actually work for the agents..
In return for a share of the agents commission the platforms will need to provide massive value to help build their personal brands, streamline day to day operations with tech, deliver the best possible office and admin support and enabled agents to work with other brilliant, high performing agents.
Disruption to estate agencies is not coming from online, or hybrid or hub models etc. That’s all the behind the scenes stuff, sellers don’t care about that, and they all essentially do the same thing.
Change is happening due to the fact that you can be an agent who can build brand awareness as the go to person in your area without a ‘gate keeper’ anymore. You don’t need an agency to enable you to carry out your job as an agent.
These days, joining a traditional agency set up (and I mean an agency with a traditional mindset) that pushes their brand over your personal brand is going to hold you back as an agent. The sooner you are able to start building your own brand the bigger impact this will have you for, and for your family in the long term.
If you’re an experienced, ‘full stack’ agent why would you want to join an agency and take such a small percentage of the commission you’re earning, when really it’s all down to you anyway?
This no different from what social media has done in the wider business world – you don’t need to go to your local paper, the TV or magazines to get massive exposure. It’s here, on social media and generally on the internet.
This is great for buyers and sellers too – they get accountability. People buy from people who they like and trust – it’s easier to buy from personal brands than company bands. Let’s take Richard Branson for example – his personal Twitter account has >12m followers. His company account for Virgin has 240k.
When a seller or buyer is dealing with a person – they know it matters to them more. If you don’t deliver on service – they’re not thinking ‘Smith & Co’ are rubbish – they’re thinking you’re rubbish. They know that it matters more to you when you can’t hide behind a brand.
I think this will help the industry become more transparent and respected – and this personal accountability will help industry standards rise. The biggest agents will also need to be the best – because if you’re not prepared to be fully accountable, then you won’t have what it takes to rise to the top.
Agencies seeing themselves as a platform will also need community / network. The best agents will be attracted by working alongside other great agents. This is probably the best way for the platform to gain brand awareness too. Sellers will want an agent who is part of X because they know it will offer a certain standard – and the platform will have a reputation for bringing together the very best.
To all agents:
The window of opportunity to establish your brand will close – it will become more difficult when there are 5 others in your town with strong personal brands. If they beat you to it, it will be harder to break through than it is now.
If you’re with an agency that isn’t putting you first and building your brand, my advice would be to leave them. You hold all the value – and at the moment, they’re probably not only fleecing you financially but they’re also potentially crippling your future potential by not enabling you to seize the opportunity in front of you.