Can technology ever replace local knowledge?
It has recently been said that the battle between online agents and high street agents is much the same as that between London cabbies and Uber.
One you pay for the expertise and years of study and experience where the other relies on online information and technology.
Uber fares can be half of that in a black cab but you cannot beat the feeling of being in an iconic black taxi. The driver of a black cab will have plenty of London knowledge; know any short cuts when the traffic is particularly bad where the Uber driver will probably be relying on Sat Nav alone. This may ultimately result in a longer journey costing you more money in the long run.
It is the same with estate agency. An online agency APPEARS to be less than a high street agent but you need to factor in the fact that with local market knowledge, professional photography and sales progression you are far more likely to achieve a higher price in a shorter time frame with a high street agent.
Your local estate agent will have market knowledge, know their properties and also build relationships with their clients. Estate agency is all about building relationships with people, knowing what they want and expect from the process and getting the best price for your vendor. How can an online agent do this? Meeting people and assessing their needs and wants is a key part of our job. Both vendors and purchasers have to be listened to so they can have the best service tailored to them.
An online agent will have access to the comparables but do they really have local knowledge? Some value across great swathes of the country and will not really know the difference a few streets can make to an asking price. Here we have properties set on either side of a main road where the difference in price is phenomenal. The factor in this is a brilliant primary school where you now need to be almost on the doorstep to get in! As a local agent we know where these little pockets are and can value accordingly but would an online agent?
Also, when registering an applicant and showing them around properties we get to know their preferred roads, type of property and their buying position. This helps greatly when we then try to match them to upcoming properties; sometimes we can have viewings arranged before the property gets onto the property portals. We know our clients; can online agents say this?
Technology has its place in estate agency but nothing can replace the knowledge and skills of an experienced estate agent. Estate agency is obviously all about property but what some people forget is that it is really a people based industry. People and their passion for the business cannot be replaced by technology.
There is a place in the market for both the high street agent and the online agent but where personal service and getting the best price for the client are key then you will not beat the agent with whom you can go and see, speak with regularly and trust to work FOR you. The high street agent will outshine an online agent as will the London cabbie outshine the Uber driver where local knowledge, service and experience are taken into consideration.