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What are hybrid estate agents and why are they on the rise?

More and more services are moving online, and the same trend is happening across the housing market. Would you choose a high street, online or hybrid estate agent?

Online estate agents have been gathering market share over recent years, with the likes of Purple Bricks now a household name. There are plenty of others who offer their service on an online-only basis, such as Yopa and eMoov, which are also becoming more well-known.

Hybrid agents claim to offer the best of both worlds. They tend to operate predominantly online, while offering some of the services of a high street agent. There are pros and cons to each agent type, including price and level of service, and much of the choice comes down to personal preference.

The rise of remote services

Businesses and services have increasingly grown their online presence for the past couple of decades. Many of these are now dedicated to online-only offerings, as the world has become more digitised. The recent pandemic has led to even less face-to-face and physical interaction, and the need for online services has soared.

As a result, there has been a major rise in the popularity of hybrid agents. A new report from TwentyCi shows that new instructions to hybrid estate agents soared by 49% more than high street agents. Sales have also risen in the space, with 16% more growth than their high street counterparts. These figures cover data from Q3 2020 in comparison to the previous year.

Market penetration is still very much dominated by high street agents, though. According to the report, physical agents still hold 92.1% of market share, while hybrid and online account for 7.9%. However, as the sector continues to grow, things could change significantly in the coming years.

The rental market has seen similar growth in the hybrid space. The number of rental properties on the books for hybrid agents has risen by 37%, says TwentyCi’s report, compared to 3% for high street agents compared to Q3 2019.

Does the property price make a difference?

For sellers choosing which agent to market their property, many factors come into the picture. Getting a wide enough reach is important, which is where online can be preferable. However, the appeal of high street agents can be the local knowledge, and potentially the more ‘personal’ service. Most high street estate agents also have an online presence, too, with the vast majority of properties from local agents listed on the likes of Zoopla, Rightmove and other property portals.

However, TwentyCi’s report has also found a correlation between property value and hybrid estate agents. It also looks at how this has changed since the coronavirus outbreak.

“Previous reports have highlighted the appeal of the hybrid agents to the owners of lower value properties. Post lockdown we are starting to see an improved level of penetration into properties of greater value,” says the report.

“This will be driven both by the increase in the average property price coming to the market (thereby making fewer available in the lower bandings) in addition to the significant uplift of activity across all price bands within the residential property market.”

The fact is that as people live their lives increasingly in cyber space, the need for online offerings in the housing market will intensify. New tech startups and proptech firms are popping up regularly, and the property sector is beginning to catch up with modern-day needs.

Undoubtedly there will still be a need for many of the services that high street estate agents can offer. But some of these businesses will certainly need to adapt to survive, and many have taken even greater strides to do so over the course of 2020.

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