In their own words - William Hughes-Ward
Sun 31 Aug 2014
Ive recently noticed (again) a few entrepreneurial types pit there who have taken it upon themselves to try to re-invent the estate egency business model. Most notably, a man on Dragons Den, and the former head of Righmove who has rather brashly announced his latest idea is to cut out the 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 a deal themselves. Well, it was with great pleasure that I watched the Dragons ask question 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 Meadens point that, for most sellers, the number one concern was who is going to get me the highest price something the entrepreneur had failed to recognise. I couldnt have agreed more with Deborag, and now just becayse Im 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 a multitude of reasons. Before you ask, yes of course I appointed Marah & 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 Ritchie up for a meeting. I suspect there would be fireworks. There are agents in all walks of life and they are essential because their role is to negociate with both parties, in some cases make sure they dont 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 want someone to handle the more tricky things in life and we agens tend to handle some of the trickiest things of them all.