Absolutely Chelsea: In their own words
Sun 31 Aug 2014
William Hughes-Ward, Director at Marsh & Parsons South Kensington.
I've recently noticed (again) a few entrepreneurial types out there who have taken it upon themselves to try and re-invent the estate agency business model. Most notably, a man on Dragon's Den, and the former head of Rightmove who has rather brashly announced his latest idea is to "cut outthe agent". They all loosely revolve around the internet with the aim of putting the buyer and seller in direct contact with each other, in order to thrash out the deal themselves.
Well it was with great pleasure that I watched the Dragons ask questoin after question relating to the true nature of the business. Their conclusion? That the services of estate agents are still necessary and the new online model was flawed in many ways. I particularly liked Deborah Meaden's point that, for most sellers, the number one concern was "who is going to get the highest price..," Something the 'entrepreneur' had failed to recognise. I couldn't have agreed more with Deborah, and not just because I'm an agent of 14 years myself. In fact, I recently bought and sold myself, and had it not been for the estate agents involved, both transactions would have failed to make it to exchange of contracts for multiple reasons.
Before you assk, yes of course I appointed Marsh & Parsons to sell my Battersea flat; they were suggesting the highest asking price and got it'. As for my purchase, it was in an area outside our coverage, but the agent certainly earned their fee. Imagine putting Wayne Rooney and Jose Mourinho in direct contact with each other, or setting Tom Cruise and Guy Richtie up for a meeting.
I suspect there would be fireowrks. There are agents in all walks of life and they are essential because their role is to negotiate with both parties, in some cases make sure they don't come to blows, and to make things happen. In my opinion, a poorly thought through web idea based purely on cost instead of value is not going to suddenly revolutionise our industry. Sure, there are good and bad agents, but people will always want someone to handle the more tricky things in life and we agents tend to handle some of the trickiest things of them all.