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One of the most frustrating aspects of being a commercial property agent in London is that in the era of the internet, the art of office search is being commoditised in much the same way as the residential market. Whilst on the face of it this should offer tenants a better chance of locating office space in London, the reality is that lazy and suspect practices in terms of keeping stock on websites up to date is causing more problems than it is solving.
“The reality at present is that too many agents are using their websites as fishing tools, rather than as genuine repositories of information regarding current London office availability.” says David Perrins, Managing Director of Morgan Pryce, the London based property consultancy. “Some of the stock doesn’t change from year to year, let alone from month to month, and the only reason for this is because agents are capturing potential tenant’s details without actually giving them what they want.”
Unlike the residential lettings market, which operates to a relatively tried and tested formula and to a large extent without professional advisors, the commercial market still relies heavily on lawyers and agents to keep the wheels turning, The traditional model, where acquisition agents find and secure space on behalf of tenants, has stood the test of time but if the online marketing of buildings becomes more efficient, the model will have to change.
“We have already re-focused our business to concentrate on our core strengths of Negotiation and Project Management, rather than on search” says James Coveyduck, Director at Morgan Pryce. “We are investing more and more money to provide our clients with a concentrated view of what is available in the market, on our website, but at the same time we are increasingly making this information available free of charge. To survive in this market moving forward, agents will need to concentrate more on their consultancy skills, which will still be relevant even as the internet makes further inroads into our traditional markets.”
Morgan Pryce are based in Oxford Circus in the West End and have become the first firm in London to offer free search to their clients. The model bases its fees solely on savings it can achieve its clients during the negotiation part of the process.