Too much information.

When I started in the industry almost 40 years ago, estate agents were the custodians of information about the property market. There were no other sources – no consumer facing RICS or NAEA reports, no Rightmove Intel, no Land Registry sale/price records.

Indeed, we were told that if a prospect asked, we couldn’t confirm the price a property had sold for, instead replying with statements such as, “I can confirm it got very close to the asking price of £49,950.” But that was then, it’s very different now.

However, just because information is freely and widely available it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no place for an expert. In fact, I suggest that there’s as much opportunity now as there was in the 1980’s for estate agents to add value by way of insight, interpretation and proper advice. But this requires a different approach and the use of the freely available data in different ways to those of just ten years ago and one fundamental switch.

At the EA Masters on 12th October I’m going to share the research, analysis and conclusions I’ve reached on how estate agency can still be a highly worthwhile and profitable enterprise. It will start with the premise that time poor people will pay for an expert to guide them through this most important of transactions. What an agent will need to offer is something more than is freely available. So a Rightmove report on it’s own won’t cut it. But detailed analysis of the individual characteristics of each property sold or let and why they achieved a certain price or didn’t is something of value. Even more is the ability to accurately forecast the current trends and best of all to identify opportunities that aren’t immediately obvious.

There are some incredibly valuable resources available to estate agents to enable them to be more market savvy than the average agent and certainly much more than those who claim to be experts with little or no local knowledge. At the EA Masters the latest (and many brand new products) will be showcased including several with some quite incredible data related insights such as:

These four businesses each offer estate agents the ability to predict rather than to just report and this is the switch necessary to remain relevant and valuable. As a consumer, I can see for myself which properties have sold and how much they sold for. I can easily identify which properties have been on the market for a longer than average amount of time. I can see the difference between three different 2 bed flats in the same block that are available to let for a variety of rents. You don’t need to tell me these things. But what I’m not able to do is to truly know, or at least have confidence, that I am making a good choice. That my offer should be at a certain level and no more. That I absolutely should accept an offer and not just because that means you get paid but because it’s my best interests.

I’ve said many times that agents need to move from transactional to trusted. I add to this that they also need to move from the past to the future. From reporters to expert forecasters. And best of all, to be a guide – an expert guide that will help me when I most need help, who can make sense of the mountains of information and distill it to highly relevant insights.

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