This article was sponsored by our partners at ZPG.
Four major trends were highlighted in ZPG’s State of the Nation report as having a significant role in reshaping the property market and threatening the traditional high street agent’s business model:
Increasingly consumers are seeking transparency and speed in their property transactions, with 34% of consumers demanding more help and support with their whole moving process and 51% wishing to see better value for money from their agents.
At a time when consumer expectations and behaviours are changing, so too are the services that professionals can deliver; with innovation offering efficiencies and new solutions for agents to engage more with consumers and potentially increase their future business.
Among people who were last in the market 10 or more years ago, just 20% used portals in their property search.
That figure has risen to 70% of those selling in the last 2 years and with the continued rise in online property searches consumers are seeing the benefits of online agents, with fees that are often much lower than their high street competitors.
Traditional agents are likely to have higher costs, for offices and staff, which can make it a struggle to compete with low-cost, fixed-fee online agents.
In an effort to differentiate themselves, many agents are focusing on customer service and are looking to invest in new online and offline products and services including print mailers, responsive websites, online chat and customer login portals. As with all products and services, constant innovation and investment is needed to make people want to purchase.
The challenge is investing in the right areas to help build agents reputation and communicating the benefits of choosing them over an online alternative to the consumer.
One of the largest concerns highlighted by agents in ZPG’s annual State of the Nation research is the state of the UK economy, with 61% feeling unsure or negative about its prospects, compared to just 43% in 2016.
It’s not just agents though, the report also revealed that just 31% of consumers now feel positive about the economy. In fact, the economy is currently seen as the biggest challenge for agents, even more so than getting stock. Which isn’t surprising as consumers have started taking actions to reduce spending, including putting off moving home (potentially reducing market stock by 22%) to prepare for an uncertain future as we begin further Brexit negotiations.
The government have announced even more consultations, reports and legislation, which will have a significant impact on agencies across the UK, with many agents looking for ways to mitigate these changes.
The main focus is on the Governments new lettings fee bill, which is likely to cause large ripples in the lettings industry as many businesses are reliant on these fees as a regular form of revenue.
There’s an opportunity for agents to offer more help, advice and support throughout all stages of the consumer property journey.
To adapt, many agents are planning to increase marketing, provide more flexible fees and offer greater support with moving by utilising new online and offline services.
ZPG’s MoveIt has become one of the key players in helping agents adapt and stay current in today’s market.
The home-moving comparison tool, which seamlessly integrates within ZPG software, allows agents to select their own panel of service providers, from conveyancers to financial advisers and energy switching, and showcase a list of home-moving quotes to their home-movers. This saves valuable time and money, as well as giving consumers more advice around their home-move, creating better value for money in the agent’s service.
Agents are automatically kept up-to-date with each stage of the home-moving process and can benefit from a new revenue-stream for each successful referral, helping save on costs and increase profits.
Mark Goddard is a Managing Director at ZPG. He was the founder and CEO of The Property Software Group (PSG), a property software solutions firm established in 2007.