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‘Embracing the evolution of estate agency in the digital world’

Source; Estate Agent Today Property Natter: 2nd November 2019

Interview by Nat Daniels.

Estate Agent Today recently spoke with Daniel Bond, managing director of Henley-based Bonds Estate Agents, which was founded in 2017 as an “independent, new and exciting hybrid estate agent that bridges the gap between your expensive high-street agent and the 'not so personal' online agent.”

First off I asked him why he launched his agency. “Bonds was born out of a desire to embrace the evolution of estate agency in the digital world, whilst maintaining traditional values in customer service. Our aim was really simple, to provide local agent expertise with the highest level of personal customer service and modern methods of online marketing to reach ideal buyers and tenants, without charging expensive upfront costs or fees to our clients.”

Bond opted for the hybrid approach because ‘we saw the opportunity for a business model that allows us to optimize digital and social media, as a core pillar of our marketing strategy, both for the development of the agency itself and to promote visibility of customers properties’

He says the agency is able to generate 12,000 promotional video views by potential customers in the area for less than the price of a half page local magazine ad, enabling prominent reach and exposure in a busy market, ‘plus cost savings that are passed on to customers in our 0.5+ VAT sales fee and 5%+ VAT fully-managed letting fee’.

“With 98% of property searches starting online we were confident in the changing customer journey and a downward trend in the need for a high street office presence, including dying footfall. We believe that our clients should benefit financially from this new status quo,” Bond adds.

What top tips and advice would he give to any agent considering going it alone?

“Expand and invest in your team as soon as possible. You can only start to grow your business when you grow a great team.”

He also says continued investment in raising awareness of your brand in your local area is key.

“A blanket approach doesn’t work anymore,” he insists. “If you want to stand out, tailor your marketing to your audience and be clever with the power of online and social media to get the right message to the right people at the right time.”

He adds: “Don’t listen to the doom and gloom or hype in the media, whilst other agents might be contracting, it’s important to focus on being competitive and maintaining a positive growth mindset. Set yourself apart from your competition with a ‘can-do’ proactive attitude, don’t rest on your laurels and always put your clients at the centre of everything you do.”

Lastly, I ask him what he thinks the future of agency will look like.

“In our area we have seen even established high street agents closing their doors. It’s a sad but real indication of how the industry is changing and the opportunity for more agents to utilise the digital space when it comes to property.”

He continues: “We also expect to see a rise in the number of online tools and services being used to enhance a client’s journey.  We currently have online tools including instant valuation, booking for viewings, a landlord property management portal, tenant repair reporting, fee comparison, stamp duty calculator and online tenant application, and many more in the pipeline.”

He believes that the agencies that will thrive will be those that are able to be adaptable and flexible to needs of individual clients, recognising that no two clients or property transactions are the same.

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