Estate Agents just lying to meet you...
Visiting friends I hadn’t seen for a while at the weekend, I was drawn into a discussion about moving and estate agents. After everybody had given their respective views on the market and those working within it, I couldn’t contain myself any longer. I got somewhat het about a recent video on YouTube, put up by a sales trainer and industry interviewer. In a nutshell both participants (in 2020) were advocating using outdated, boiler-room style sales tactics and outright lying. What was as surprising to hear this sort of stuff still goes on, was the fact they both were happy to telegraph this to the world (their followers at least) and one of them was being paid to deliver this drivel to EAs up and down the country – is it any wonder EAs have a bad reputation?!
You don’t need to lie and cheat to win more business or be successful, just do the basics right. If you want more from your agency or team, here are 5 things you may want to consider:
1. Treat people with respect, that is more than just not lying; demonstrate your expertise; build trust and understand that although the seller pays your fees, buyers (and therefore you and your client) benefit from having expert input too. They will become your best source of new business through reputation and any eventually sale when they move. People like to deal with friendly people they can trust.
2. Train your people. Not on how to book a viewing by pretending you are busy and only able to do one time in the day, train them on all aspects of the business; conveyancing; leases; section notices; the mortgage application process; how to fill in protocol forms – everything that they can deploy to help buyers and sellers when they need it. Give your people the skills and confidence to advise people properly.
3. Know your stock. It amazes me how many properties I have visited recently where the EA didn’t have a clue. No idea about the house; extensions; who lived there; who the neighbours were; timescales; problems or potential issues pointed out by the sellers (and those that weren’t); motivations for selling; anything useful other than the number of bedrooms and reception rooms. Help people make informed decisions up front. It would also help to get your people through the door before they start trying to describe it using the same photos anybody looking online has access to. Let the seller share information with you and your team so that you are all aware of the idiosyncrasies.
4. Handling offers. I was told by one agent recently that they were offered a £10k bribe and that they were going to recommend the seller didn’t accept the person’s (who made the bribe), offer. It wasn’t a bribe. It was a non-refundable deposit on an asking price offer. We all know the merits of non-refundable offers and how some are more hassle than they are worth, but to consider it a bribe and voice they were actively going to dissuade a seller from accepting it is appalling. This person is an agent of 6 years! Train people to know what to ask and how to ask it when offers are made. Seek confirmation of funding; qualify the offer; check the chain (first); ask if they have a solicitor and what else they may have offered on. Protect your client’s interest but do it in a way so as not to cause offence. Again, point 2) should help in this respect.
5. Use the phone. Out of 20 agents I am registered with right now, none have called. Not 1. The standard fob off is ‘check the website’ or ‘sign up to Rightmove’. It seems I am not alone, I have spoken to maybe a dozen people who are moving at the moment and only 1 of them has had a call. Even if it’s to check people are still looking – just communicate! Ask buyers how the search is going, gather intel, grow your rapport, ask about other stock or perhaps organise a split on a competitor’s property for a fee? As a seller, I would go weeks and weeks before hearing anything – I had to chase for viewing feedback, updates, ideas or even to ascertain if they were still marketing the house.
Keep your sellers informed; talk to them about what changes could be made to make the most of viewings and keep them advised on what you’re doing and what the plan is. One of the biggest gripes is that people don’t hear from their agent and when they do it’s usually only for a price reduction.
Agents who are struggling to get a decent fee are doing so because they are offering nothing different to the online only options who charge a lot less. Why would anybody pay you a % of anything when they get the same, arguably better in some cases, services elsewhere for less than £500? How are you justifying sellers you are worth the higher fee? What really matters to your sellers and how are you reassuring them you are the person/company for the job?
As for our internet friends, it's frustrating that this still goes on in agency. Yes, there are some excellent property folk who go above and beyond and are a good example of who to aspire to, but too many are stuck in the past, dwelling on how things were in bygone years, using tactics that perpetuate the stereotypes and ultimately prevents them from progressing.
Competition and new-fangled marketing ideas come and go, but the basics are the foundation of this business. Without them, why bother?