Trusted Advisor.

Richard Mullender, the man who negotiated hostage releases from the Taliban, spoke with one of our Mastermind Groups last week and posed an interesting question:

How far would you allow each of the following into your home?

  • Door to door salesman
  • Plumber
  • Friend
  • Family member

The Group concluded that the salesman wouldn’t get past the front door, the plumber no further than the kitchen, the friend most likely restricted to the ground floor and “access all areas” for family.

This caused me to think about how an agent, most likely a complete stranger, is given “family member clearance” on a market appraisal, indeed often allowed even greater access to open cupboards and wardrobes, or poke about in the loft, etc.

But how does this make the homeowner feel and what are the potential consequences of this invasion of privacy?

It is generally accepted that moving home is one of the most stressful experiences people go through and my sense is that this condition starts at the initial meeting in the home. Many agents will start the valuation process with a quick agenda setting talk followed by a tour of the property, more often than not accompanied by the homeowner, and then go on to walk round again on their own. They then return to the kitchen or living room to deliver their opinion, judgement, verdict even, on the property and by association on the seller or landlord too.

Now just stop for a moment and think about this from the homeowners perspective. Someone you’ve just met has walked around your home, has seen which brands of toiletries you use, what your bedtime reading is and possibly even your preferred method of contraception! They’ve gone into your kids rooms, opened the storage cupboard on the landing and seen the condition of your linen. Other than the police being called to a domestic incident or burglary, which hopefully very few of your clients have ever experienced, this is probably the most intrusive experience they will have had in their lives. And I ask, how well trained are your listers to manage the psychological impact they make?

Richard Mullender suggested that effective negotiation starts with people asking, “do I trust you, do I like you?”, and let’s face it, estate agents aren’t exactly top of the trusted people charts, as is illustrated in the Ipsos MORI survey above, indeed over three-quarters of those polled do not trust agents to tell the truth. This puts agents at a much lower than average starting position which means that our ability to negotiate is extremely hard. My sense is that as an industry we need to train our frontline people much more effectively to help them build trust and rapport with clients – and this isn’t easy but could have a dramatic impact on your results.

If you would like to attend one of our Mastermind Groups and have a 3.5 hour workshop with Richard or one of our other world-class speakers then please get in touch.

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