The Trip Advisor era is here to stay. As an estate agent, if you haven’t yet realised this, you should read on.

The internet has changed many things in the property industry as it has in other sectors such as insurance, travel, recruitment and so on. Property search is now firmly at the behest of Rightmove, Zoopla and their stable mates. If a property is not on these sites, it simply won’t be seen.

But one of the other consequences of the internet that may have passed some of our more traditional estate agency colleagues by is the surge of consumer led reviews. The likes of [URL=””][/URL] and others are now the authority for opinion amongst home buyers and sellers on their experiences of property firms. To ignore this rapid rise in the number of prolific armchair auditors as such, is to vastly underestimate the influence that such websites command.

It is no coincidence that online estate agents feature disproportionately heavily in the top 100 UK estate agents. Given that internet estate agents so far make up a tiny percentage of the overall estate agency sector, to have so many of this new breed of property sellers at the top of the national league table is indicative of their understanding of what makes the modern consumer tick.

Online agents really get that property sellers are savvy and increasingly techy. Some 37 million people in the UK have access to the internet. Smart phone usage is almost at saturation point and the iPad generation are pretty much wired in full time. And in the same way that it takes a few seconds to check out the hotel you are considering or the make of car that you might buy or the service at a restaurant that you’re thinking of booking, it is just as easy for home sellers to ensure that the estate agent they are about to entrust their most valuable asset to, is competent in the eyes of others.

I remember working for a company many years ago whose management pawed over a customer satisfaction survey with roars of laughter at the appalling responses to their non-existent approach to client care. Their amusement at some of the comments that lambasted them turned sour when, inevitably, they went bust.

In the internet age a poor approach to customers can be highlighted within minutes, embedding itself in searchable cyberspace for all to see forever. None of us are perfect and we all mess up, drop the ball and handle things poorly sometimes. But notwithstanding the inevitable human error here and there, estate agents have a long way to go to begin to drag themselves up in the perceptions of the public.

Specialist review sites such as AllAgents are all but forcing our industry to get better and we should embrace that. The [URL=””][/URL] team get that. But, for now, we are still in the vast minority.

Russell Quirk

[I]Russell Quirk is founder of national low cost online estate agents[/I]