Make the invisible visible.

Rightly, there is much debate about the different service levels being provided by various estate agency businesses.

There’s no doubt that the guidance and handholding delivered by many of the traditional agents is hugely valuable – the trouble is, too many sellers and landlords naively believe their property to be special and at the point of instructing an agent don’t believe they’ll need any extra attention. And to be fair, various studies by Rightmove and others conclude that the majority of transactions proceed relatively smoothly, (albeit taking far too long but more on that another time). so whilst we in the industry are all too aware of the potential pitfalls, statistically most sellers and landlords won’t experience them.

Surprisingly but understandably in light of this, property owners tend to place too little importance on an agent’s ability to progress a transaction.

Add to this that many agents are reluctant to highlight all their negative experiences, perhaps for fear of putting people off moving, and ignorance prevails resulting in agent selection being made on other criteria including cheap fees.

Of course, if a seller or landlord does experience problems and if their agent is unable or not interested in assisting them, then they learn the hard way – but by then it’s too late for all concerned. So what can a “full service” agent do about it? The answer is to make the invisible visible.

There are some harsh facts about the property market that many agents either conceal, cover up, gloss over or just don’t highlight:

  1. It’s reported that almost half of all properties listed for sale are not sold, i.e. legally completed, within 12 months of first coming to the market.
  2. The average time from sale agreed to contracts exchanged is between 14-16 weeks, (less than 5% of sellers are aware of this and believe it’s much faster).
  3. The fall through rate typically varies between 20-35%, quite often as a consequence of whether an agent chooses to run with a buyer or not.
  4. Tenant referencing is superficial in many respects. The average check is unlikely to uncover a bad tenant.
  5. The first 14 days of marketing is the most likely time to secure a buyer/tenant. However, some properties are overvalued when they first come to the market as certain agents use this tactic to win business despite it not being in their clients’ interest.
  6. Agents on a traditional fee of 1% or 1.5% of the sale price are not truly incentivised by their fee structure to get the best possible price. 1% of £250,000 is £2,500, an extra £10,000 is only worth an additional £100, a low offer of £240,000 only knocks £100 off an agent’s commission – definitely not worth losing the deal for.

I suggest that if these facts were more widely known then the consumer would be much more alert to the issues of selling/letting their property. And I’m not suggesting merely highlighting them in the small print of a sellers or landlords “guide” but actually stating them loud and boldly on the home page of your web site.

I accept it that for many of you it goes against the grain to make these unpalatable issues visible, but how else can you properly communicate all the hard work and effort you put in on behalf of your clients if you’re reluctant to highlight all the things than can and do go wrong?

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