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To understand why High Street agents are relevant now and will continue to be, lies with what a consumer is buying. We’re not talking towel bales from BHS or a USB cable from Maplin (RIP) but life’s most expensive purchase and a legally binding process. The seriousness of the transaction – and the fact that the buyer can also be a seller – means a faceless online operation or call centre miles away doesn’t always give the assurances movers are looking for.

It’s getting personal rather than entirely digital. Mike Deplete – author of the 2018 Emerging Models in Real Estate Report® (a joint study by PwC and the Urban Land Institute) is unequivocal is his stance on tangible estate agents. “Real estate agents aren’t going anywhere. Home sellers still want someone to hold their hand and consumers want to work with an agent to reduce the chances of a potentially costly mistake – agents are insurance.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Matthew Knight – strategy and innovation partner at foxlark (a business consultancy). “Service businesses, such as estate agents and banks, will always have a presence on the High Street but they’ll focus on customer service rather than the transaction. Having a face-to-face conversation trumps any chatbot!”

MPL Interiors works with numerous estate agents refreshing existing branches and/or opening new offices. “Having a walk-in office will soon be a real USP and many agents realise what an asset being on the High Street is,” says Harry Simons – Partner at the shopfitting specialist. “While the internet is great at finding buyers and tenants, winning new instructions is about local standing, accountable staff who personally oversee transactions and a base from which to gather area-specific market intelligence.”

The internet’s great to find buyers but a walk-in office will soon be a real USP, many agents realise that being on the High Street is a valuable asset. Harry Simons, MPL Interiors. Harry says the future of agency shopfitting lies in customising interior designs to reach a specific audience. “Online is often a ‘one size fits all’ approach with little variation but we’re tailoring branches and engaging with people in a way that’s not achievable online. Reflecting the local vernacular or purveying a desirable image makes people feel their agent is in tune with them – a positive influencing factor.”

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