At the moment, online agents account for around 5 per cent of the market, although the figure is expected to rise in years to come as sellers begin to consider the internet for transactions larger than their weekly shopping.
But, in his latest blog (http://www.esaleuk.com/ourblog/) MD of Esaleuk.com, David Rook, says he anticipates continued stiff resistance from established high street firms – particularly those with the ear of the media.
He said: “If we make a comparison with football, the sport has seen an era dominated by the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal and, naturally, they want to stay where they are and will do everything they can to protect their position as the sport’s aristocrats. Leicester City have just shaken that particular establishment to the core.
“In time and with the right backing and management, I’d like to think we’ll see an online agent – perhaps the equivalent of an unfashionable team usually given the last slot on Match of the Day – take on the top players in our market and become a household name in the property market too.”
However, Mr Rook acknowledges the online agents’ road to parity will be equally as hard as Leicester City’s while elements of the media rely on traditional high street agents for a significant slice of their advertising income in an era when newspaper sales are in sharp decline.
“When a co-operative of agents has the ear of a media outlet’s sales director, collective pressure can be brought to bear to keep a new competitor’s name out of the spotlight,” he said. “Starved of a platform, obviously a newcomer will find it harder to build a reputation.
“So what? Well, surely all should have equal opportunity to bend the ear of the media, with decisions on who gets exposure on topical issues based purely on editorial judgement and not who spends the most cash on advertising?
“Although you may not hear about many online agents – certainly in the regional press – it’s not because they don’t work or that they are in some way inferior. It’s more a case of having to overcome the influence of established rivals with the ear of the media.”