For some time now there has been much debate over High Street vs. Online Agencies, yet all that seems to have been achieved is a lot of toing and froing. The most fundamental thing to understand about this debate, is the simple fact that both High Street and Online Agencies are just that – Agencies. They are variations of the same thing.
So what is the future of residential lettings? To answer that question we have to ask who will be renting property in the future? After all, the tenants pay the rent. The answer is, of course, the younger generation. Of all private rented property 48.8% of tenants are aged between 16-34 (www.gov.uk, 2014), therefore making up half of the private rented sector. This is vital to keep in mind when looking at the High Street vs. Online Agency debate, as too many articles are basing their arguments around Landlords.
Landlords are letting agencies clients, however Landlords are not the market force in lettings, tenants are. Tenants pay the rent and therefore dictate through market forces what is occupied and what isn’t. Consequently what Landlords must do is position themselves so that they can best attract and appeal to the market; i.e. tenants. This is where the Agency comes into play; the agency’s role is to ensure that the landlord’s property is marketed in a way that best suits the consumer’s needs.
The younger generation’s buying patterns are moving online, that’s a simple fact. In most other industries there is a general consensus that young consumers use the Internet and their smart phones for everything from shopping, dating, holidays, banking to energy bills. Now why would finding a property be any different? Its not, this is clearly demonstrated by Rightmove achieving 90 million visitors per month, yes that is 90 million. Even the way in which tenants reporting repairs, take a look at fixflo’s numbers, times are changing. Consequently an Online Letting Agency can carry out its services as efficiently as any high street agency. There just isn’t the need for the high street shop anymore.
So why should landlords choose an Online Agency over a High Street Agency? The answer is simple; it’s not just that online agents are cheaper (which is an attraction of course) it is due to the business principles being aligned with the future consumer trends. Tenants use the web, therefore landlords should too.
Image (www.forbes.com, 2014)