In the late 1990s/early 2000s life in the UK was pretty good for most: the economy was booming, many enjoyed a high standard of living and, for those of a certain age, it was the heyday of pop music. Everything, including the property market, had a momentum to it, a headiness that everyone wanted to be part of. In search of a main residence or second home; cash rich but time poor: how could you possibly compete where prices were rising at an extraordinary rate and demand far outstripped supply? And where there is a void and a need there will always be someone or something to step in to fill that void and satisfy the need; and in this case it was the property search agent. The search agent could allay you of your worries and remove the pressure. For their commission they would do all the slog, hear about suitable property before it hit the market and, crucially, get you the very best deal. And I should know, because I was one of those agents.
Roll on 25 years, many peaks and troughs later and we find ourselves in a very different world. I am now an estate agent and the property search agent is a rarer animal, operating mainly at the top end of the market, thrown into obsolescence by the internet and a tightening of belts. However, in this different world do we find ourselves with another void, another need to be satisfied? There is certainly a fear, though this time is it much more complex, but underlying this fear there is a desire and a need to move on, to seek reassurance by doing the sort of things we did before, albeit we go about it in a different way. Does the property search agent have a new role to play? Not driven by the speed of the market, but by an acceptance that we need to adapt and change. A house purchase can be stressful but it should bring with it joy and expectation; the hope you experience when you view a property. But is the handshake, the smile and eye contact, the “do take your time” a thing of the past? For some time to come it will be the wearing of masks, please don’t touch anything and we’ll wait outside while you look round. Add to that the 150 miles you have travelled and you don’t even like what you see.
This is where your property search agent steps in and can do all the leg work for you – prepare a list of perfect fits, send you videos, take you on a virtual viewing and then you only need travel when you know your search agent has found the right one. This won’t just be for the “restricted movement” period, this will be for a long time to come brought about by the consequences of the pandemic and a change in attitude. Connectivity checks and recommendations – broadband is not the only solution – a good search agent will be able to inform and reassure on all these points.
If I were asking myself the question, I think I have just answered it – the property search agent is dead; long live the property search agent.