The focus of the dispute was a spirited debate between Rightmove’s Miles Shipside and new Your Move managing director Jon Cooke in the blue corner and Hatched.co.uk director Adam Day in the red corner, slugging it out in a discussion titled ‘Bricks and Clicks: How Far Will Online Go?’ Rightmove’s Shipside said that 60 per cent of sellers felt their choice of agent was influenced by the fact that an agent had a physical high street presence, while Cooke added that a ”high street presence helps us build trust with our clients.” Day – a controversial figure who recently claimed old-school estate agents over-valued properties to win commissions, hid problems from potential purchasers and used ‘professional viewers’ to impress clients although they had no intention of buying – then took to the stage to discuss the changing face of estate agency. “There will always be room for the high street agent” he said, but suggested that “an office doesn’t sell houses – Rightmove and Zoopla do.” Day said the industry was “right slap bang in the middle of the tech age” and encouraged high street agents to embrace technology or risk failure. During the conference there were presentations from Bruce Harryman of John Lewis and James Knightly from ING Direct, although much of the debate amongst attendees focused on the online versus offline debate. One unnamed high street agent told EAT: “I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Adam pretty much slammed the high street agency model altogether. I don’t fully agree that the future of estate agency is online, but he certainly ruffled a few feathers.” Others refused to be influenced by Day’s compelling arguments. Another agent commented: “Online estate agency will go nowhere. It is a joke of a concept.”
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