Digitization is dramatically changing the real estate agent profession in France, giving rise to new business models. While traditional agencies still account for 60% of the market, the share of pure players, remote agents and business centers has reached 14%, making steady progress. Notaries and individuals claim the remaining 26%. Let’s find out the main types of structures that provide mediation between the seller and the buyer in real estate.
“Traditional” agencies are going digital
The advent of new technologies has forced “traditional” real estate agencies to undertake their digital transformation. Agencies can be part of a franchise network, an integrated network, or a standalone network. They have storefront buildings where they welcome customers, but they also use various digital tools: CRM, file sharing, virtual tours, for example with 360-degree video, online signature, etc.
Traditional agencies employ salaried salespeople who receive a fixed amount, along with a percentage of sales processed, and sales agents. All benefit from hybrid ongoing training and on-site support.
Relying on digital tools, these online agencies offer a fully automated service in order to reduce costs, especially in terms of structure and labor. In exchange for paying a flat fixed rate, sellers enjoy a range of services, including listing ads on real estate portals, and arranging visits or appointments with a diagnostic specialist. However, this business model is not reliable, as the packages are too cheap to cover the investments. Thus many choose to convert to remote proxy agencies.
Thanks to the professional card, the real estate agent can create a network of agents throughout France. Now, the country has a total of 80,000 agents. Increasingly, commercial agents must pay a fee to work for remote agents.
Also inspired by an American concept, Business Centers are set platforms that bring together independent sales agents in a defined geographical area. The latter has access to the workspace, for a monthly fee and various fees. But unlike the United States, France does not mandate specific training leading to a “license” for these commercial agents. This economic model also raises concerns of some form of shifting the profession to more “classical” agencies.
They are imported from the US, and the company consists of the agency obtaining a sales authorization to find the buyer within a pre-agreed period, say three months. If the property has not found a buyer at the end of this period, the agency undertakes to purchase it at a lower price. However, on both sides of the Atlantic, many of these players are facing difficulties.
Human intervention is still necessary
Despite the increasing role of technology in real estate, skills, qualities and human relationships still make a huge difference. For this life important project, few purchasers will be satisfied with a simple initial virtual visit to the property. Likewise, an estimate of its fair price is fairer and more reliable after careful on-site verification of its characteristics and condition.
At all stages of the transaction, a professional is essential: assessing the value, selling, visiting, negotiating, drawing up a financing plan, advising the seller or buyer, etc. No machine or digital solution is capable of performing all of these functions, which require specific training and continually enhanced expertise.
Thus, as their business model evolves, traditional players hire employees internally, or call on external collaborators. They are also increasingly likely to turn to Transfer of wages in real estateor the mode chosen by an increasing number of negotiators, agents, agencies or agency networks.
This form of employment gives them complete independence, in choosing their tasks and managing their time, with less risk compared to, for example, the position of a commercial agent. In effect, the employee received benefits from full Social Security coverage, including health insurance, savings insurance, mutual health insurance, retirement, and unemployment insurance.
Finally, it is up to the wage company to handle all the administrative and accounting aspects, allowing the real estate professional to devote himself 100% to his activity.