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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Online letting agents to take over industry

It has been decided that letting agents, like booksellers, are no longer welcome on the high street. The internet has decided it will provide this service, better and cheaper.

It has also been decided that a one-stop service, placed under a clear, singular, recognisable brand is what we all want. Big business wants to get in on the sector, to take over, to make everything swish and corporate. It has been decided. The lettings world will be shaken up and stamped upon by the internet .... it will be so, that is a certainty, for business logic has decided it.
However, one thing might stop their rise. Landlords!

Landlords are odd, aren't we? Landlords are individuals, proud outsiders, free thinkers. Landlords are not sold on brands like those wage slaves that cower down to their corporate masters.

Personally, large corporations turn my stomach with vile contempt. I hate corporates. They are money grabbing enterprises of absolute and pure evil ( too much bile? - sorry ). Personally, I boycott Amazon. I hate them. They symbolise the worst of the internet. They eat choice, destroy human interaction, gobble up tracts of a nations disposable income, then spit it offshore without paying any tax. 

I don't think my sentiments are a rarity amongst landlords. 

However, more importantly, neither do I think landlords will lose sight of the fact that these new brands are only selling services that are already available. These are simply a re-package. A collection of services already available, popped into carefully presented box with a big corporate bow on. They are aggregators of existing online services, and they are hoping to charge you extra for this simplification and the perceived trust in their brand.

It's as if they think we are dribbling morons, who don't know how to use Google. ( Pass me a hanky.)

Be wary though, they might be offering a discounted price on their headline service, but their business model is to claw this back by pumping up the prices on their bolt on services - tenant referencing, inventories ... , services available, no more than two clicks away on a mouse, at a lower cost, by a specialist online provider.

I think most landlords are savvy enough to realise this.

I've just flown to France with Ryan Air. The flight was headlined at £29.99, but then, after baggage, taxes et al, I had a final price of £176.50. This same business model is clearly what they are hoping to replicate. 

So, with the launch last night of the 'Easy' branded, Stelios fronted, online letting agent, Easy-property, it signifies that the corporates are coming to take over the letting industry.

Get ready to wave goodbye to the high street agents that had moved into that vacated bookshop.

The world is changing, just don't be blinded by the bright orange.

What next? Online pasties? Goodbye Greggs.


Victoria Whitlock said...

Interesting take on the easyProperty launch and I get what you're saying about big brands, but do you think that landlords do use Google to find online letting agents? My impression is that many aren't aware they exist, so I think it's good that a recognisable brand has come into the market with the firepower to let landlords know there's an alternative to the high street guys. And as for the bolt-on costs, some of them are more expensive than buying elsewhere - but sometimes people will pay extra for the convenience. I also don't like Amazon and I tried to avoid it but..oh...they've make it just too easy to resist.

Hawkeye said...

Victoria, keep on trying to resist. Think of the greater good.

Anonymous said...

Until you can remove a tenant who is trashing your property or not paying the rent with two clicks of a mouse I suggest you stick with a human being on the High street who you can trust and build a relationship with. They will in turn understand that their route to success and riches lies in providing a service and ensuring that they only introduce to you prospective tenants who they have looked in the eye and put their own reputation on. Rare enough I know but absolutely impossible if done over the net.
Shaving a penny here or a penny there on commission is guaranteed to cost you pounds later.

Hawkeye said...

Fair point anonymous, there is a lot to be said for the human touch.