You’ll often hear me talking about my current ‘hot topic’ – do estate agents offer value for money?
My argument is that in a world where the internet has made house pricing information readily available, and social media has brought us all closer together and more inter-connected than ever before, do we really need a human being acting as a middleman in a property transaction?
I firmly believe that largely, the answer to this question is a resounding NO! However, there are some way that a local estate agent CAN add value, if they wish to do so.
Here is a short list:
1. Provide detailed, in-depth and specialist local knowledge. This could include schools, council tax bands, broadband speeds, whether the property can get Fibre Optic broadband, detailed maps and travel times to and from local towns, train stations, local landmarks and town centres. They must live in the area, and be prepared to be quizzed about it by potential buyers!
2. A property sourcing service for registered buyers, which will benefit new sellers as there will be a ready made pool of qualified buyers ready and waiting to view their property when it comes to market, or ideally before it comes to market.
3. A transparent referral service to peripheral suppliers ie mortgage brokers, energy assessors and solicitors. Currently, many agents make commission for sending clients to their preferred network of suppliers, whereas if they SOLD trust, transparency and ethical practice, they may be onto a winner with a much improved local reputation.
4. Offer flexible agency agreements, no tie periods and allow sellers to also list their home with another agent or ‘for sale by owner’ as well.
5. Make excellent property particulars, full of detailed floor plans, room measurements, and mail them out to their waiting list. They should also have them to hand when showing potential buyers around the property.
6. Advertise your property extensively on ALL online portals, as well as in their local press, as many buyers may now search online, but many also buy the local paper!
7. Have a modern, distinctive and attractive ‘for sale’ board, not one that is weather worn or laying down in next doors garden!
8. Have office opening hours outside of 9-5:30pm! This is a big one – calls can be diverted out of normal office hours so that the agent doesn’t miss a potential lead for your property. They could take out a 24/7 telephone PA service for the same reason. Perhaps they could open on Sundays, and use this time to update vendors on enquiry levels and the progression of their sale?
In my opinion, 2014 will call for a certain breed of estate agent to rise above the rest. They will need to be ready, willing and able to be proactive, to go the extra mile for their vendors and to deliver results. Otherwise, public opinion that they simply DO NOT offer value for money will continue to swell, especially as more online estate agents come to the market place and ‘for sale by owner’ websites such as www.MyOwnEstateAgent.com grow in the coming years!
Opportunity is out there, but so is the competition.