What is a hybrid estate agent and why is it very different to a hybrid car?
I have recently bought a hybrid vehicle and this got me thinking about the term ‘hybrid’ and what this really means in relation to cars and also why it is being used to describe some estate agencies.
It is accepted that in essence a hybrid car clearly has all the features and benefits of an electric powered vehicle along with all of the features and benefits of a traditional petrol engine powered vehicle, truly the best of both worlds and clearly if one power source fails the vehicle can still function on the other power source. In Estate Agency on the other hand, the term is being applied to a business which has cherry-picked the elements they wish to (or are able to) provide of the traditional service and cherry-picked the elements they wish to provide of the electric (internet) service.
If I had an electric car and the battery discharged I would be stuck with no way of making progress other than to wait to be towed to the nearest charging point, which could be many miles away, with a hybrid I would be able to continue my journey using petrol power. Similarly to the purely electric car if an electronic element (website, email, server, hosting service, app, internet provider) of an online estate agent failed I would be stuck with no way of making progress, particularly as many of them provide limited telephone support and the call centre would clearly be uncontactable in these circumstances. If the same happened to a traditional estate agent I would still be able to phone them or call in for an update. A so called hybrid estate agent may have some kind of ‘local expert’ who services my area working from home but could be up to 40 miles away. I could probably call him or her on their mobile, however its unlikely they could help as the centralised office or call centre only deal with what the internet cannot do, his or her responsibility and more importantly influence ends when I sign the contract. I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable calling in at the experts home to see them and their family would probably not feel comfortable with me and a couple of other clients sat at the kitchen table or in the back bedroom.
If I had a traditional car and the engine failed I would be able to walk to the nearest petrol station and return with a can of petrol and be on my way, clearly more flexible than the electric car in this circumstance but not ideal.
The local village agent still exists where they are the only agent in the village, anyone intending to sell or wishing to buy contacts them as a first port of call even with very little technological functions or internet presence. Everything has the personal touch and face to face communication is the norm. I would call this the traditional Estate Agent where nearly everything is done by phone, post and maybe fax, along with wearing out shoe leather.
So what is a true Hybrid Estate Agent, I would say one who can provide the best of both worlds, traditional and electronic communication, traditional and electronic marketing methods, traditional and electronic advertising methods. In order to provide this they need to be shop based with local staff who have local knowledge and are approachable at any time during the sale process for both buyers and sellers who may need guidance and reassurance and a convenient place to drop off any necessary documents, keys etc. Alongside this they must be technologically enabled with all of the services an internet only agent can provide.
If the agent is a traditional estate agent who has embraced all of the technology available, then the client has a full choice of the level of service they use and pay for. If the agent is an internet agent and therefore cherry picking only parts of the traditional service, then only the agent is able to choose the level of service the client receives, not the client.
In conclusion many agents classing themselves as hybrid estate agents are unable to provide what most people would consider to be a hybrid service ie. “the best of both worlds” as consumer choice is restricted to what the provider can offer.
Steve Davies, Director of Adore Properties