Game changers?

10/Mar/2010
Brian Scannell

Rockslides can start with just a single pebble and there have been several developments this week, any one of which could result in a significant change in the landscape.

Two important developments have been the publication of the Household Energy Management Strategy by DECC and CLG and the publication by CLG of a consultation on 'Making better use of Energy Performance Certificates and data'.

It is too early to offer any detailed comment on either document. But after listening to Peter Matthew speaking at Ecobuild this week outlining their aspiration in respect of them both, I am hoping that they will have a real impact over coming months and years. Once we’ve had chance to digest them, we’ll be commenting further, but we’d love to hear your views.

But the pebble that may end up having the biggest impact was that thrown by retailing behemoth Tesco with the 'pre-launch' of iSold – their take on low cost estate agency.

You can find out more about this initiative – launched with Spicerhaart – at the website iSold.com, but the headline proposition is a flat fee of £999 for selling a property.

As with many other areas of life, you get what you pay for; and there is little doubt that the basic offering is very basic indeed – with the householder doing many of the things that an agent would normally do.

The announcement predictably attracted a lot of attention in both the trade and national press, see:

These are just a small selection of the articles. In many ways the coverage was astonishing for what is just a pilot limited to the Bristol area and which may lead to nothing.

But very few think that is what is going to happen. Instead, most commentators see this as a 'game changer'.

The iSold proposition depends entirely on individuals being able to visit a property and collect all of the information required for marketing particulars, take the photographs and produce a floor plan and an EPC if required.

Sounds a lot like the Property Listing Professional accreditation that we recently launched, doesn’t it?

No, we aren’t involved with the iSold pilot and neither are we good spies or telepathic.

Rather we are responding to what we think is an evolving market – and Tesco getting involved may have just speeded up the evolutionary process.

I don’t know whether I’ll be buying my next home through a web service such as iSold or through a private sale or from a traditional estate agent. It is far too early to make a judgement.

But I do know that the internet has already changed the way I buy most things – from groceries to cinema tickets to Christmas presents - and is already central to how most buyers search for a property.

What we have all come to expect the internet to deliver is increased choice, better information and, crucially, lower costs.

If local estate agents are to be able to compete in this new environment, they will need to be able to reduce their fixed costs and focus their resource on the key service they provide – selling.

I believe that in the future we will increasingly see dedicated local Property Listing Professionals working with their local estate agents – as well as the newly emerging virtual agents – providing them with an expert property inspection service.  This will allow the agent to focus on delivering a high quality, cost effective service to their clients.

You can find out more about becoming a Property Listing Professional here.