Property professionals in Plymouth say there is increasing evidence that consumer interest in the ‘online only’ estate agents business model is beginning to wane.

Andrew Blacklock of Maitlands estate agents believes buyers and sellers alike are seeing the greater customer service benefits of traditional agencies, with a High Street presence.

“It is particular pleasing for us, and for my fellow PAPPA members, that the High Street agents are holding firm,” added Andrew.

“There is definitely a shift away from the online only agents in my view, which has to be good news for those of us who firmly believe in the value of maintaining an office presence.

“In my experience, it is what the majority of customers expect, and want, from a professional estate agency, dedicated to the principles of honesty and integrity.”    

Andrew also said there is much to be positive about in the industry in general, with the new homes sector enjoying a particularly buoyant period.

This is largely thanks to the ongoing success of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, which has proved so critical to attracting first time buyers back to the market.

Chancellor Philip Hammond revealed in his Budget speech this week that house sales to first time buyers are currently at their highest level in more than a decade. He also announced further help for first time buyers of shared ownership properties up to £500,000, saying they would be exempt from Stamp Duty. 

“There is little doubt that the Help to Buy scheme has made a real difference in helping first time buyers get a foot on the housing ladder, particularly when the initial changes in Stamp Duty first came into force too,” said Andrew, who was speaking at the latest quarterly meeting of the Plymouth Area Property Professionals.

“Thanks to its continuing success, and of course the Forces Help to Buy scheme too, the new homes market remains a real growth area and that has to be good for overall confidence in the market.”

Away from the new homes sector, Andrew admitted a lack of suitable housing stock coming to market remained an issue for agents with uncertainty over Brexit and the Budget denting confidence slightly in recent weeks.

But PAPPA chairman Ben Dreher has already reaffirmed the organisation’s stance that suggestions a no-deal Brexit could damage the property sector is purely speculative with research showing most Brits remain positive when it comes to the ‘Brex-factor.’