Despite using the internet to search for properties, consumers not only value estate agency expertise but would like to have life-long relationships with their ‘bricks and mortar’ agency of choice.
A new study, involving 1,000 home hunters, by software provider Dezrez looked at public attitudes and expectations towards both online tools and high street agents.
It found that 93% of buyers search for properties online.
But while just over half (54%) said they would use a mixture of online tools and estate agents, 82% said they would actually prefer to have a personal agent to deal with the whole management of the home-buying process.
Those surveyed also admitted to relying heavily on estate agents’ expertise for key parts of the home-buying process including: conveyancing (72%); to arrange viewings and inspect properties (62%); make an offer (53%); and for negotiations (42%).
Justin Morris, CEO of Dezrez, said: “Buying or selling a home can be an extremely stressful and daunting process and good-quality customer service still carries a huge amount of weight.
“Estate agents are well placed to offer sound, expert advice. They can help to alleviate some of the pressures and concerns that consumers have with managing the process themselves.
“What we are experiencing in the property market are some interesting trends that are mirroring consumer activity on the high street.
“Whilst many people like to be able to search online, they clearly value the customer experience and human touch of face-to-face interactions.
“However, without the personal touch, online-only services aren’t necessarily going to be in the position to replace traditional agents.”
The research did reveal some danger areas for estate agents, highlighting consumer frustration with agents who are slower to adopt newer digital technologies.
Two-thirds (67%) of respondents believe that estate agents are not fully using technology to their advantage and 44% strongly agree that estate agents need to adopt and embrace technology in order to survive in the future.
Consumer bugbears with agents included: not doing what they say they’re going to do (46%); not returning calls (41%); and offering an impersonal service (23%).