Over the last month or two, I’ve started to write a regular column for the Bath Chronicle property supplement – I’m finding it pretty tough to squeeze what I want to say into only 250 words but enjoying the challenge! When I was first invited to contribute, I sat down and thought about what kind of messages to concentrate on. I wanted to avoid the kind of “sales pitch” for the company that you see a lot and rather just try to focus on individual aspects of estate agency from the customers point of view. Below are the first four columns to appear – do let me know what you think and whether there are any subjects you’d like to see more info on;
Brevity may be the soul of wit according to Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet but it also has to be an important skill for an estate agent. Since an appreciable percentage of buyers start off browsing the web for property, the initial advert they see for your house has to grab their attention and convince them to “click through” to your lovely brochure. If they don’t, you may have lost them forever. That initial advert (or “summary view”) has three main components – the price, a photo and 300 characters of text. According to Rightmove, buyers spend an average of less than 3 seconds looking at each advert so all three have to work very hard on your behalf.
Assuming you’ve got a good photo and the right price, the 300 character text really has to sell the property & encapsulate all the good points in a very small space. Of course it also isn’t helpful if your agent has wasted the first line with “An excellent opportunity has arisen” or “XXX estate agents are favoured with the instructions on”.
If you’re thinking of selling, make sure your agent takes the time to create the right text to headline your property and bear in mind the same principles apply for print ads as well as web ads. A good brochure is of course a must but you’ve got to get the buyers to look first so brevity, clarity, honesty and sometimes even a bit of humour goes a long way.
You’re good? Prove it!
Did you know both Rightmove & Zoopla give estate agents (although not the public as yet) the ability to compare data on their results and that of their competitors across the Bath market in four main areas – new instructions, price reductions, sales falling through and properties sold?
Although a snapshot of trends at best, this data can suggest some interesting conclusions. After becoming confused at encountering some very varied valuations over the last few weeks, I ran a comparison on the impact of pricing and valuation methods which threw up some surprising numbers– did you know for example that, in the last 6 months, some agents in the city have reduced up to 30% of their stock whilst others have reduced as little as 6.5%? It is also interesting to note that four out of the top five agents for most reductions on Zoopla also appear in the top six for most sales fallen through.
Since this data is so readily available to agents, how about asking them to demonstrate transparency and bring their results along when you invite them to value your home? Comparing the relative positions of the agent across the four main data streams should give you a valuable insight into their working practices and give some solid evidence to back up their claims. In an industry where someone is always Number One at this or that in their adverts, wouldn’t it be nice to actually see if its true?
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do” – C.G Jung
Why is a good estate agent like an iceberg?
Not expecting an oceanographic flavour in a property column? Bear with me – the answer is, like an iceberg, the majority of a decent estate agents job often goes unseen by the public and even most clients. You’ll often have noticed our advertising, boards, websites and so on but what lurks beneath the water is, in my opinion, what should matter most to clients and customers alike.
When I recently broke down our post completion feedback from buyers and sellers into the most frequently occurring keywords, the top 5 results were; professional, honest, friendly, helpful & understanding. Nothing about price or fees – just all about service.
Good consistent service takes time, experience and resources. One of my agent contacts on Twitter, who works in residential sales up North, recently analysed just the time spent by her staff on one average transaction from valuation to completion and the result was over 54 hours. Of course, this was just a normal 12 week sale without any problems occurring – there are still sadly plenty of occasions when matters don’t progress as smoothly – and then there’s advertising and all the other costs to add in.
Something then to bear in mind when you’re picking which agents to ask out to value your home – do they have the time to deliver the service you and your property deserve? Read independent reviews, visit their offices and make sure you pick icebergs, not ice floes!
I make no secret of my passion for local history and thoroughly enjoy poking around the library to see what I can learn. I’m also an avid collector of old photographs and maps of Bath, which always brings complaints from the kids when I drag them yet again to a local antiques fair. I think knowing the history of your locality can throw up lots of interesting opportunities – whether you fancy discovering forgotten corners of Bath on a Sunday walk or evaluating how your surroundings have changed over time and forecasting how they might change further, there’s always a way to find your place in the evolution of your local area and the best thing about local history is that you don’t need to be an expert to join in.
Since opening Madison Oakley, I’ve been adding a historical aspect to our property business. This is of course not revolutionary – there are professional house historians – but I wanted to research a little about each property we have been asked to sell. Does it actually make any difference to selling peoples homes? Well, from the feedback we receive, yes it does. Not only are viewers constantly commenting on how interesting they find our details, its also very reassuring to them to know the provenance.
Whether you’re selling a property or not, I hope this inspires you to find out more about the history of our city. If you fancy doing some research of your own, best of luck and do let me know if I can help.