Estate agents are one of the many types of businesses that have rushed to get a foothold in the emerging online space. While some types of business don’t really benefit much from having a website and online division, the property market is one sector that can gain a lot, as well as offer a great deal to their customers by going online. Thanks to the ease with which websites can now display information from product databases, online estate agents can be very useful to those looking for buy or rent a property. The ability to sort the offerings by certain features such as number or bedrooms, type of property, location, and most importantly by price range, allows house hunters to narrow their search to meet their needs. This type of filtering removes the distracting, unsuitable properties and allows them to focus on the houses that meet their requirements. When you compare this with going into a high street estate agent office and sifting through a pile of datasheets, there is no contest as to which option is quicker and more effective.
The Rise of Online Estate Agents
Due to the high speed in which information can be uploaded to the internet and then made viewable to the general public, it is not difficult to see why the rise of online estate agents has happened so quickly. In the past an estate agent would mail you the details of houses they thought were suitable. This was time consuming and costly and more often than not, the house was sold or under offer before you had a chance to look over the print outs. Now the details of a house, newly available on the market, can be entered into the database in the office in a few minutes before being made visible to anyone pursuing the estate agents’ website. Not only is this approach much quicker but the potential reach is much greater. Now anyone can browse the properties an agent has for sale or rent without even being on their mailing list. The chances of an estate agent selling a house is greatly increased and they are no longer dependant on someone seeing a ‘for sale’ sign outside the house and getting in touch, or walking past the office and seeing the photo in the window. In the world of online estate agents, everyone is a winner.
Can Online Estate Agents Replace the Personal Touch
Although the rise of internet estate agents has proven very popular with both agents and customers alike, there are those who are worried that it might spell the end of the traditional high street estate agents office. While there is no doubt the increased efficiency of advertising properties online brought about by the rise of the internet might have led to some staff being surplus to requirements, there is still room for the human element in buying and selling houses. Being able to access hundreds of houses online, in a matter of minutes, from the comfort of your own home is a brilliant advantage brought about by the online era. However, no matter how convenient and time saving that approach is, it cannot beat the input you can get from skilled estate agents, with years of experience in their field. The ability of an agent to describe a property in vivid language can really help you to picture a property, and get a sense of the situation in hand. A personal recommendation of a special property can beat the ability to browse a hundred photos online. So while online estate agents and the content of their websites can help tremendously when it comes to narrowing down a long list of potentials and filtering out the properties that are not relevant, they can never truly replace the traditional high street estate agents.
The Future of Estate Agents
As more and more business are finding they have to compete increasingly in the online world, so to do estate agents. Even your local, independent office of estate agents needs to start developing their online presence. A holding page with the contact details for the office might’ve been good enough a few years ago, but now potential customers expect to see lists of houses with photos and in-depth descriptions and listings. Even having a fully featured website may not be enough for the smaller players in the industry. To get the required exposure to compete with the big brands in the property sector, a presence on the popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter is growing more and more important. As people spend more and more of their online time using such services, making yourself visible there is vital for any online business, and online estate agents are no exception. As word of mouth is the best kind of advertising you can get, having a space online where people can comment favourably on the service that has been provided, for all their friends and followers to see, should not be overlooked. This is beneficial not only for the estate agents themselves but also for their customers as this new level of public accountability will force them to ensure they maintain exceedingly high standards and levels of professionalism.