Agents must be masters of all the tools at their disposal
ESTATE agents were once at the bottom of the pile in the eyes of the general public, and I am not sure if it is thanks to good luck or hard graft that other unnamed professions may have now overtaken us at the foot of the league table in terms of stature.
Some might say it’s only because of the impact of the financial crisis. I would prefer to think it is because the majority of estate agents have “upped their game”. Many agents have finally realised it is a service industry and that both buyers and sellers expect an agent to be proactive, not simply wait for things to happen. What staggers me is that some agents have still not grasped this fundamental principle. However, it is not simply a question of being “pro-active” by having a redesigned web site or “open view” weekends. I believe it is fundamentally about being an “intelligent estate agent” and using all the tools that are available in the most effective way. As such, the following are perhaps a few markers to consider when assessing an estate agent’s abilities:
1.Market knowledge – Does the agent have an established track record of selling in the area and are they used to handling the type of property in question? If so, the agent should have the necessary market intelligence to ensure that the pricing is correct and not just aspirational. Comparable evidence is key to correct pricing and essential information to satisfy any mortgage valuers, who are cautious to say the least in the current climate.
2. Sellers’ expectation – Sellers must have confidence in their agent, not only at the start, but throughout the selling process. It can be a traumatic process, where the selling skills and experience of the agent, especially in an uncertain market, are crucial to steering the transaction through to exchange of contracts. Estate agency can involve a significant amount of abortive time. Agents need to have the drive and determination to keep going (whatever day of the week).
3.Buyer requirement – Some buyers are very clear and focussed from the outset. Others are not and need encouragement and guidance on the right type of property to acquire. As such, a good estate agent needs to be a chameleon to gain the trust of buyers and understand exactly what is driving the requirement and how it might be satisfied with the stock of property under their control.
4. Traditional marketing – I am regularly told how people enjoy reading the Yorkshire Post Property section on a Saturday and I am aware that some readers avidly know what has, or has not, been advertised before and at what price. Newspaper advertising, as with brochures and sale boards, remains an essential ingredient of the house selling mix. It’s also interesting to see how traditional marketing activities influence our online business.
5. Electronic marketing – We all use the web in our day-to-day lives A high web profile is critical, hence the success of the Knight Frank global website (www. knightfrank.com). The key is to ensure you entice buyers, but do not reveal so much that potential buyers choose not to view.
So what does it all boil down to? Estate agents can have all the ingredients they need, but it is making sure the mix works that is the important factor and, as with all ingredients, the best ones are rarely the cheapest!