Published: 24/10/2018

In an ever-increasing technological world, recent news that more than half of consumers in the UK still prefer to communicate with estate agents face to face may have come as a surprise. But despite a consistent rise in all things digital, when it comes to estate agents, having face-to-face contact has never been more important.

Looking beyond the initial assumption that technology is always best that we – as a society – have come to rely on, the fact remains that when it comes to the single most expensive and personal thing we own, a quick, easy and cheap transaction is actually the very opposite of what we want.  
"Meeting people face to face has become more important today than ever”, Andy Baxter, Home and Garden Expert and MD of Internet Gardener tells us, “and being personable in the home market remains an integral part of the industry.

“From a psychological perspective, an important part of trust is the interaction with someone we feel that is honest”, he continues. “In this way then, this switch to digital has left consumers craving the honesty and raw social interaction that comes with the ‘genuinity’ of meeting a real person.

“Additionally, when it comes to something such as property, it is a product that exists in the ‘real world’ and therefore needs a ‘real world’ platform in order to be showcased. However, houses are a physical product and always will be. Property is, therefore, perhaps one of the only industries that cannot be digitalised in this way, and it’s vital that estate agents retain this level of personalisation to go alongside the product."

Online pitfalls
Yet it’s not only the positives of meeting an estate agent face to face that must be considered. Despite the seemingly obvious pros of doing it all online, there are other things that must be taken into account, too:
  • Hidden costs. Yes, online-only agents may claim to be cheaper than their traditional peers, but did you know that you have to pay a non-refundable, upfront fee – regardless of whether your property is sold? You may also find yourself paying extra for things like professional photos and floor plans. Paying a fixed fee might sound tempting but according to Which? may de-incentivise an agent’s desire to get you the highest price. Finally, because traditional agents still sell 84% of properties, according to the HomeOwner’s Alliance, there is also the possibility that you may still need to use one – meaning you’ll end up paying double. “It's wrong to make general claims about savings when the headline price does not include facilities such as a sales board, floor plans, photographs, accompanied viewings or other facilities normally included with traditional firms,” National Trading Standards spokesman, James Munro, is reported as saying.
  • Self-service. Like with everything else in life, you get what you pay for, meaning you’ll be responsible for showing potential buyers round your home yourself and will also have to deal with after-sales support, too. That means you’ll be the person pushing along the negotiations, which can sometimes get drawn-out and messy.
  • Local knowledge. Online agents are usually located in a call centre miles away from the properties they are selling, unlike traditional agents which are, on average, just two miles away from their market. This means – among other things –that their valuation of your property may not be accurate.
Whilst the importance of face-to-face contact in the housing market cannot be overstated, the necessity of also having an online presence in the ever-increasing technological world in which we find ourselves is also vital – which is why we take our website and social media activity so seriously! So, are you following us yet?