I went to a Rightmove research seminar in Chelmsford today. They’re something they put on every so often to assist member agents with making their Rightmove presence more productive. How to draft better looking property particulars, ideas on improved photos and things that you can do within the back end of the site to gauge how your stock is doing and to improve it, that sort of thing. They also talk on how to ensure a better communication with your clients.

Lots of analysis on what sellers want from their estate agent and the gap between that and what the industry actually offers, too.

All good stuff and attended by 100 or so Essex estate agents, all in one room… (Hmm, the possibilities there, eh?)

But out of hundreds of agents invited perhaps that number is not so impressive. Because four times the number of local estate agency firms decided not to go along to this insightful bit of training than did go along. The vast majority therefore missed out on a forum designed to enhance their Internet presentation skills to the max, to the benefit of their selling customers. And to better understand what makes a person choose an agent.

As ever I managed to tangle myself up in debate, prompted by Rightmove’s Commercial Director Miles Shipside, on the merits (or not) of a High Street office presence. And a friendly banter ensued between myself and a Shenfield agent (a very capable independent firm) which we ultimately left to rest as a case of ‘each to their own…’ Because there is of course room in our market for various different offerings. Something for everyone etc. But further choice of offering is important.

The eye opener this morning though was, no matter how prominent a High Street presence an estate agency firm has, that many firms across the UK are simply lousy at communicating their property stock to potenial buyers. Indeed many of the leads that are emailed from property portals such as Rightmove do not even get opened by the agent let alone responded to and dealt with on behalf of the vendor, who may well be sitting there desperate to sell.

I won’t go into the specific statistical details given as the numbers are no doubt confidential between Rightmove and their member agents but the figure that represents ‘ignored email enquiries’ is truly startling. Truly…

So those sellers that still value an estate agent having to have a plush, main street office with Italian sofas and LCD screens in the windows, just bear in mind that no matter how luxurious their premises are, at least 85% of all estate agency enquiries are by email or telephone these days. A heck of a majority. Those leads arrive regardless of where you are and how your office is fitted out.

But if the shiny suits in the leather chairs are too busy topping up their Perrier from their built in display fridges to bother answering buyer enquiries, then High Street gin palace or not, you’re not going to sell your home with them.

And if you do, you will still pay ten times the fee that Emoov charge.

Choice indeed.

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