Estate agents warned of sea change

Speaking at a seminar at the Property Business Show today, Stephen Smith, director housing marketing at Legal & General, said that only the estate agents who adopt a flexible and pragmatic approach will prosper in this environment.

"It is all too easy for estate agents to waste significant amounts of capital going up blind alleys and investing in the wrong technology. A sensible approach is to keep options open, perhaps by paying a regular fee for flexible Internet based solutions rather than expending capital on more rigid in-house systems. There are still many alternatives to doing everything yourself and a great opportunity to buy in services from third parties," said Smith.

Smith said that technological solutions had to remain flexible and adaptable at the moment otherwise they could end up pouring good money after bad.

Smith said that the key issues in the future will be the Homes Bill which will define the final shape and timetable for sellers packs, the Land Registration Bill which will introduce electronic property transfers and the future regulation of mortgage advice.

"One absolute certainty facing estate agents is that structural change within the industry means they must rapidly adopt new technology and electronic trading as an integral way of working competitively. Although the systems to make this happen are still developing for many aspects of their businesses low cost options for streamlining processes already exist.

"Even if estate agents don’t settle on one chosen system right now they will have to be aware of the need to re-engineer their businesses to run new systems for conveyancing, surveying, the National Land Information Service (NLIS), Internet portals and so on. An open minded approach is needed."