Will the pandemic change the estate agent branch forever?
Just this month, Nationwide building society told 13,000 staff they can work anywhere as part of a new policy.
Many other big employers are considering the cost of their property estate after 12 months of working from home.
For decades, the property market has been built on a strong high street presence. There are currently between 15,000 and 20,000 estate agency branches in the UK. And, that figure was even higher before the financial crisis of 2008.
The ongoing value of the physical estate agent branch
Many argue that bricks and mortar premises are vital to deliver the service levels expected. They offer a reassuring, visible presence throughout property transactions. Others say that the rise of online agents prove otherwise.
Loose calculations by one contributor to trade publication Property Industry Eye put the estimated average cost of a high street branch at £132,000.
With many team members successfully working from home for extended periods during the last 12 months, will COVID-19 provide an opportunity to reassess the estate agency office?
Will we see firms take steps to encourage remote working for life, in the same way that banks, law firms and other professional services are making their own plans to cut back on property costs?
The pros of having a strong high street estate agent presence
There are a number of pros to having a strong high street presence, including (but not limited to):
- The hidden advertising value of flagship offices
- A ‘safe space’ for customers to visit if they prefer face-to-face communication
- Traditional window displays to advertise properties for sale or rent
- Greater perceived local presence
There are also the drawbacks of physical office space to bear in mind, some of which would include:
- The cost of renting office space, including business rates and utilities
- Potentially you might need more staff to run a network of offices
- The ongoing cost of maintenance and repairs
Cloud-based property software: a solution for all routes
One thing is for sure, whatever your thoughts on the future of estate agency offices, your teams no longer need to be in the same office to work seamlessly.
Alto’s property management software provides the platform to work collaboratively on the cloud. Integrated diaries, synchronised emails and real-time communication help agents, wherever they are.
High street firms, hybrid agencies and a growing number of entrepreneurial start-ups are all benefiting from cloud-based property software which brings colleagues closer together, even when they are further apart in these challenging times.
Whether the future of property transactions remains on the high street or in the remote space (or, more likely, somewhere in between), Alto will be there to support.
Our solution is a platform for success now and in the future, wherever your teams will be based.
Learn more about Alto’s cloud-based property software. Click here to see our product features.