So What?

Four-i stands for Information, Insight, Ideas & Inspiration, summarising our approach to everything we do. We research deeply to identify trends, patterns, anomalies, issues, problems and opportunities and then there’s the most exciting phase – coming up with ideas that we hope will inspire our members and others we engage with.

In the last two weeks I’ve personally looked at 1,084 different estate agents websites. I’ve looked at home pages, property details, branch contact details and in particular, the “About Us” pages. I’ve sought to try and understand the key message(s) each agent is seeking to communicate and how they attempt to differentiate themselves. And I think you’ll find some of the results interesting.

For the Best Estate Agent Guide Awards we place each agency into one of 20 geographical regions and also into one of four size bands. We’re going to share the full results and research findings at the EA Masters on 12th October but let me share part of the analysis from one subset of the data – 27 agents, small size band (2-5 offices), located in East Midlands and West Midlands regions.

On the “About Us” or “Why Choose Us?” pages, 37% of the agents state that they are “Professional”, 56% that they are “Independent” and 70% that they are “Established”, more often than not with a date. These are their key messages, indeed 52% boldly state two or all three as reasons to use them.

So it got me thinking, “does the consumer care about an estate agent being professional, independent and when they were established?” And based on 10 years research, (our Home Moving Trends survey of over 100,000 sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants), I’m reminded of the final scene in the film “Gone with the Wind” – “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Every estate agent is “professional” – I don’t know any that does it for a hobby. As for being “independent”, the whole industry, (bar maybe 60 companies from over 15,000), are independent in so far as they’re privately owned companies. And as for the date of incorporation, so what? Some claim to be established in the 19th century, others just a year or two ago, most for c.20 years. I repeat, so what?

What I think many of these agencies might be trying to say is:

Professional: We are thorough, diligent and work hard.

Independent: We’re customer focussed rather than shareholder driven.

Established: We’re very experienced and experts in our area.

Whilst I feel these messages will resonate more with home owners than Professional, Independent and Established, I suggest that they’re still not powerful enough differentiators. What the consumer wants is for their property to be sold or let for the best price on their time table and to have a trusted advisor to guide them through the process.

There were several excellent examples of agents’ communicating these key messages – one I particularly like from this small subset is

“Our goal is for you to move successfully and then recommend us to EVERYONE as being the best agent you have ever dealt with.”

“WE SELL AND LET HOMES NOT HOUSES. Above all, we believe property is not just bricks and mortar; we work with you to make houses into homes. We will GUIDE and help you through what is renowned for being a stressful or emotional process, to make it into the EXCELLENT and EXCITING EXPERIENCE it should be.”

I suggest to all our members that they get really clear about what differentiates them and then make sure they’re communicating it in a compelling manner as with this example from Cobb Amos – how does your messaging compare?

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