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Stop being dinosaurs, ditch the suits and relate to younger people, ex-agent tells industry

A former estate agent who still keenly follows the industry says young people view agents as dinosaurs.

She said that, from her perspective, agents should show courage in a brave new world – and ditch both their suits and leafleting.

Martina Murphy, who has now been out of the industry for two years but whose experience engulfs working in both corporate and independent agents, said: “The industry seems to currently spend a lot of time fire-fighting the growth of hybrid/online launches, arguing over portals, and fighting their patch on the traditional battleground.

“Yet, for the upcoming generation of younger sellers and buyers, who are used to efficient, smart communications, and tech-based processes like Uber, Airbnb and similar, many estate agents must appear like relics from a bygone age.

“Pricing structures also seem to be in complete disarray and the flurry of online/hybrid agents is reminiscent of the early days of dotcom risers and fallers.

“The industry is rightly caricatured for all the pseudo pomp that goes with having a train of 18 year olds in ill-fitting suits, cufflinks and pointy shoes walking around high streets with flip folders like they are about to negotiate a Brexit treaty and most high street agents are still generally viewed by the public as untrustworthy.

“As for leafleting: most people hate flyers through their door, are inundated with kebab shop and pizza leaflets (whilst your branding gets mixed into the same genre on the doormat).

“Younger generations (and this includes first-time sellers now) are very eco-conscious and environmentally friendly.

“So is leafleting still something the industry should be supporting?”

Murphy, who now runs her own furnishing business, added: “Being approachable for a face to face chat and experienced in a locality and its particular nuances from street to street, are something no app or online site can provide (as yet).

“This is the great strength of the decent independent estate agent who knows their client base, runs a good ship and provides service to their customers.

“They are the ones who need to grasp and adopt as much of this new technology as possible within budget constraints and be brave in this brave new world of estate agency.”

She called for the following:

A national control to prevent any Tom, Dick or Harriet opening online or on any street corner without relevant professional qualifications and training

A degree in a property related discipline, such as conveyancing or surveying, as mandatory for entry into a ‘profession’ that brings with it a decent basic wage and encourages bright young people who may ultimately shape the future of the industry from within

A ban on the shiny suit. Smart casual dress should become mandatory and suits banned.

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