The move to property transactions going digital has been happening for some years now. And estate agents are making that transition. Why rely on the traditional model of people looking at photos of houses in a shop window when you can put so much more information about properties online, and remove the need for costly local branches in the process?

In 2006, Hatched became the first online estate agent in Britain. They streamlined the communication and record keeping processes involved, enabling them to offer their services at rates a fraction of usual market fees.

Doing things digitally also means they’re not limited to a particular geographical area, although that in turn means the historic business of someone from the agency accompanying potential buyers to a property has disappeared.

**The move to property transactions going digital has been happening for some years now. And estate agents are making that transition. Why rely on the traditional model of people looking at photos of houses in a shop window when you can put so much more information about properties online, and remove the need for costly local branches in the process?

In 2006, Hatched became the first online estate agent in Britain. They streamlined the communication and record keeping processes involved, enabling them to offer their services at rates a fraction of usual market fees.

Doing things digitally also means they’re not limited to a particular geographical area, although that in turn means the historic business of someone from the agency accompanying potential buyers to a property has disappeared.[1]

Television personality Sarah Beeny was the next player in the UK market in 2009, with Tepilo. The set-up is pretty much the same as Hatched, as you might expect – they created the logical template for a business of this sort, and it was a canny move for Sarah to leverage her profile in the way she has, very successfully – even with a TV show about online estate agents.

The serial entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou stepped in with easyProperty, taking a different tack. The site is basically a way for people to display places for rent on multiple platforms, and choose what package they wish to pay for. PurpleBricks is for house sales, and its competitive edge is in being open for communication 24/7.

Growing rapidly, and given a customer service award last year for ranking among the top 0.5% of estate agents, eMoov typically secures an accepted offer in a third the time of conventional estate agents, and gets 99% of the asking fee*, compared to a more general figure of 96%.

Currently the online market accounts for 5% of the UK figures, but eMoov’s founder believes the figure will be 30% by 2018.

All of this means that the property sector needs to get smart about digital.

[1]Traditional estate agents argue vehemently that online agents undervalue property in order to make sales, meaning the seller loses out. Problem is the traditional, so far, can’t prove it.