I have to say that simple survival in the current market deserves an award, but at the annual Estate Agency Awards 2008 on Friday those agents that had gone a little step further were rewarded.
Credit to all at Estate Agency Events for organising the event and I believed Peter Knight when he said that they were not making any money on this event and no doubt running it as a loss leader. He stated that they had thought about cancelling it due to the current climate and I was at first unsure that proceeding with the event was a great idea. But being there amongst the agents made me realise that it was the right decision to have these awards ( the wine and champagne helped as well). The choice of compare was also excellent and Melissa Porter was fantastic throughout. If she is reading I may have that London flat she was looking for!
There were of course about 100 categories, but the one I was particularly interested in was the Best Technology and Web category. Bronze winner was Nest, Silver winner was Xperience Franchising and London Executive took the gold award. It was fantastic to see Nest, an online agent in the mix and keywords from the judges findings indicate they awarded points for clarity, good design, ease of use, good use of property photography/images. London Executive were rewarded for providing a site that can be read in Russian or Chinese (presumably two of their strong client base).
Nest has a great site and a good model, their video is also worthy of a look. More minis, but very well done and now on JRA.
What does this tell others? Well, it says what we have all been saying for some time now, provide a site that is useful for your client base, works well and has nice images. As an industry we are still not there yet however and first we need to get the basics right. I am sure if you looked at this section in the American equivalent there would be awards for creating iphone applications, interactive map searches and other such issues. In the UK will are still at the stage of building a simple, clean, efficient web site. That said, the recognition of Nest is a huge step in the right direction. There are of course others in this space and I have often banged on about the online agent and I would expect to see this as a category next year. There was an innovation category, but not for online innovation per se.
With Nick Leeming (founder of propertyfinder as it now is) being presented with the excellence and achievement award in estate agency I saw this very much as technology finally being acknowledged/accepted. I would expect to see new categories next year to reflect the online revolution within this space.
Karl Tatler took a number of prizes along with the coveted estate agency of the year award 2008 so congratulations to them.
Next year I hope to see more online categories, best portal/search/etc. Maybe the Owl will sponsor/judge a category?