There has been an interesting debate taking place in the housingdabble linkedin forum around the above question and so I thought I’d post my views on the current state of play.
Rightmove’s recent online consumer survey asked what influenced their decision when choosing an estate agent and the top four aspects in order were:-
1. High street presence
2. Sold similar properties
3. Advertise and present property well
4. Local expertise
This surprised me because over the last few years we’ve seen a strong argument to show that we are moving towards a time when agency offices no longer need to be high street locations. I still expected high street location to be an important aspect, but not the top one.
The reason I think this survey came out so strong in favour is the recession. Over the last two years we have seen people almost curl back into a ball in terms of spending. This has meant that we are looking for something tangible when we make buying decisions and the confidence of a high street presence and also a brand we are familiar with seems to be making a difference.
From having spoken to number of agents with a wide branch network, they have seen their longer established high street branches do better over the last year than their newer branches that were the high flyers in 2007/08.
So in the high street days being numbered debate, I thing we might be experiencing a slight stay of execution, but when confidence returns we will begin once again to edge towards non-high street locations and even online offices.