When the going gets tough, the best agents get creative
LAST year we saw change as some confidence returned to a somewhat bruised housing market. For me personally, company changes were also afoot as I took over the reins of the Beadnall Copley business as sole practitioner following the retirement of my business partner, David Copley.
Unlike many other agents that have either disappeared from the high street or have reduced staffing levels in recent years, Beadnall Copley’s teams across Wetherby, Harrogate and Ripon have gone from strength to strength. In 2010, our Wetherby office had its record year since opening 16 years ago.
I believe this isn’t down to sheer luck. It’s about experience and local knowledge, understanding clients’ needs and a determined team giving the best service and realistic advice.
It’s also about creative ideas. We devised “Meet the Experts” and “Multi-Viewing” weekends, which boosted sales and instructions. In this marketplace, innovation remains the key for selling homes.
That’s what people should be looking for when they choose an agent.
When I look back over my 37 years in estate agency, I have admired a number of competitors, including Tim Blenkin, who runs his successful practice in York, and the recently retired Charles Yeoman in North Yorkshire. Each is highly professional and client-focused.
Sadly, the three agents from whom I learnt the most are no longer around. John Smallwood, Peter Scales and Jim Feather all instilled in me that goodwill is the most imperative characteristic in business. I still stand by this philosophy today.
Despite the sector’s bad press, I am proud to be in the estate agency business. We are a people business and not just about bricks and mortar.
Clients trust us to sell their most valuable assets, their homes. In return, estate agents need to offer integrity, professionalism and courtesy.
The best businesses will also try to give something back to the communities they serve. I am Chairman of the Hunslet Trust, which ensures sport for disadvantaged young people thrives in South Leeds. Right now, the Trust is supporting Olympic hopefuls. We are also the main sponsor for the Bramham Park Fun Run, covering all event costs so that fundraising goes directly to Cancer Research UK.
Personally, being in a position to help in this way is highly gratifying, and certainly puts everything, including the tough few years we have had, into perspective.
The recession hasn’t been all bad for the property market. Indeed, it has had the effect of making buyers and sellers less rash and more cautious.
I predict that people will be much more considered in their approach to buying and selling homes.
They will borrow more sensibly and tend to buy property to live in for the foreseeable future rather than just as an investment. They will think carefully about their next move and about the agent they use.
Here are my top five tips for choosing an estate agent:
1. Look for an agent with local knowledge and experience. Recommendations can be powerful, so ask friends and family.
2. Consider local estate agents’ performances. Have they been independently recognised or awarded for their services?
3. Find out how your property will be marketed and achieve prominence in a crowded marketplace. What marketing campaigns will be offered, including press and online activities?
4. Trust is an important part of your relationship, so discuss your needs upfront, gauge agents’ personalities and personal approach.
5. Appoint an agent with an exemplary track record of selling homes quickly. Just look around, the presence of their Sold boards can speak volumes.