Head of London Buying, Ashley Wilsdon speaks to The Sunday Times.
Real estate reality TV doesn’t provide a true insight into what it takes to be a successful broker or estate agent — it’s no more ‘real’ than Made in Chelsea or The Apprentice — but don’t be fooled entirely, a handful of those characters are quality operators.
First, they have popularised the broker model, in which the buyer and the seller are represented by a self-employed agent. The American way of selling property is gathering momentum on this side of the Pond, particularly in the fanciest postcodes of central London. Some of the biggest corporate estate agencies have lost top talent to smaller, more entrepreneurial companies in recent years.
The main draw for agents making this move away from the high street model is the ability to run their own business, build their personal brand and work in a more dynamic and flexible way. Our London buying department now has a network of more than 100 independent brokers covering the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea alone.
As a result, we have seen an increase in off-market activity, in which sellers do not advertise their properties in estate agency windows or on property portals, but are matched with suitable buyers registered with brokers. This isn’t just happening at the top end of the market, which accounts for approximately 80 per cent of our transactions, but also with homes below £5 million and across leafier outer London neighbourhoods such as Barnes, Chiswick and Hampstead.
While the traditional high street model is likely to be around for many years to come, only time will tell if adopting the American way of doing things in a marketplace that is culturally different will be well received by buyers and sellers long-term.
These reality TV shows have also had a positive impact on diversity and inclusion in our industry by putting women and people of colour front and centre. The property sector has a long way to go in this department although things are improving, albeit slowly.
There is no doubt that the way we buy and sell houses could do with a bit of disruption. As an industry, we have often been guilty of being behind the curve and resisting change. Social media, for example, has only really been used in an effective and engaging way to sell houses since the pandemic.
The upside for consumers is choice and that can only be a good thing. As a buyer or seller, you now have a wide array of offerings and personalities to instruct — from social media-savvy brokers to traditional high street agencies.
Saying that, there will always be property transactions at the higher end that require the utmost discretion and privacy. That’s why you won’t find buying agents like me on your TV screens any time soon.
See the full article here.