Casting the net wide

I was eavesdropping in the office the other day as my colleague booked a viewing on a house we advertised last week and start viewings on at the end of this week. This kind of premarketing is often normal practice with us and we have several reasons for using this technique. Anyway, the viewer asked several questions about the house which I was asked to contribute on and we had a general chat about the details. She commented that she felt it frustrating that she had to wait a few days to view the property and then as a parting comment, said “of course you lot only do this to get lots of people interested”.


“Yes, we do” I said “because its our job to do so for our clients”.


I think that kind of straight answer wasn’t what she was expecting!


Actually, this isn’t the whole answer and I’ll tell you the other reasons in a second but the main principle IS that we want a choice of buyers and we want this to give our owner the choice of the BEST buyer at the BEST price and finances/timescales that BEST fits their circumstances. That might not always be the first person through the door or the one with the highest offer so we like being certain we have had a representative selection of quality activity. At that point, we can advise our client that any offers received are the right ones to consider.


By the way, it is worth mentioning at this point that “our client” is an important distinction that needs to be highlighted. Our client is the seller. They employ us to act for them and look after their interests. The Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agents states – You should provide a service to both buyers and sellers consistent with fairness, integrity and best practice” but the seller is our client.


However, we don’t premarket just to get a choice of buyers for our owner. We’ve noticed recently that a lot of properties are being sold very quickly by some agents – some launched to the web as already STC – and this has caused a lot of frustration with buyers. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard feedback from viewers along the lines of “it’s so refreshing to actually get a chance to see this house, instead of having our viewing cancelled by phone before we’ve left home”. By premarketing, we are giving every buyer the same amount of notice and plenty of time to do their research, travel from wherever they are based, organise their finances or even put their own property on the market. Basically, we’re giving as many buyers as possible a level playing field in a very fast paced market, which is consistent with our duties under the Code of Practice above.


We also premarket as it is all about preparation – it gives time for owners or tenants to get ready for viewings and it gives us time to organise the viewings in a coherent structure. We don’t generally do open houses as the majority of feedback we get from buyers re this is quite negative (pressure tactics, lack of privacy, inability to ask questions etc) so a bit of lead time allows us to book individual viewings into our diaries at times that suit all parties involved. This also helps viewers to have enough notice to arrange time off work, get their partners to come as well or tie in other local appointments. Doing all this not only results in an orderly string of efficient appointments and also cuts down on the need for revisits overall.


Finally, we all know sales don’t always go through smoothly once they are agreed. If we have had several offers on a property and something goes wrong with the first sale, we may well have reserve buyers who can step up and take over. This saves on time and inconvenience for our clients.


Of course it also helps that, at Madison Oakley, our partners don’t have individual targets or incentives – we can co-operate together to get the best result for our clients. Having worked in corporate agencies where individual negotiators are rewarded on beating other employees to the sale, competitiveness can have a detrimental effect at times.


Footnote – since starting writing this article, we have concluded viewings on the property in question. We booked 10 viewings spread over four hours at the house on a Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. Two viewings failed to show, one cancelled and seven were conducted. Within 24hrs of closing viewings, we received offers from every one of the seven viewers. Our client now has a choice of potential buyers with a range of different attributes and we will be taking instructions on how to negotiate the best outcome for them.