It’s not (just) about the money
All the recent excitement in the press covering how online estate agents and solicitors are potentially going to reshape the property industry has led to some reflection in one of our businesses Zen Exchange HQ (one of our start-ups).
We think, that in amongst the competing arguments on what fees are justified, the nub of the matter is being overlooked: what needs to improve is the experience for the buyer and seller.
Complaints about fees in any industry are usually because customers don’t feel the experience they paid for has delivered value-for-money. With this in mind, if buying a home is seen as being one of life’s most stressful experiences, it’s inevitable that fees associated with it are going to give cause for complaint.
Outside of the property world, people pay to avoid anxiety and stress on a daily basis whenever they buy branded goods and services. So when it comes to buying a home, you’d expect the same response – people would be willing to pay a premium-rate fee to make the experience a good one, or, indeed, avoid a bad one.
Imagine if you asked a man on the street what they would pay to avoid an experience as stressful as the death of a loved one, divorce or being fired? What would he say? £10,000? £5,000? £3,000? We’d bet our lunch money that his price tolerance would be at the higher end of the scale.
Whilst we don’t know what fee agents and solicitors should charge, we do know that if the experience doesn’t improve, any price is going to feel expensive.
And it’s possible, that from where the buyer and seller is standing, a process with good communication, transparency and everyone working positively together will feel worth a lot more than 2% of the purchase. Which would be good for everyone.