One of our newest clients called today to let me know they had been chased by one of the other agents she’d had out to value. When told she did not intend to use them and had in fact appointed us, she was rather surprised at their response. Apparently the best they could come up with was “but they don’t have a mailing list so they will never achieve the prices we could”.
Apart from giving me a good chuckle as this agents statement would come as a bit of a shock to the 600+ registered buyers who rely on us to notify them of new properties, it got me thinking what do we really mean by a “mailing list” these days.
When I first started in estate agency in the early 1990s with a large corporate agent, our mailing list was a huge A-Z tray of individual A5 file cards. When we posted out a brochure to someone, we had to then go and find their card and write on the back what we’d sent. If we wanted to phone out a new property, it was a heck of a job to work through hundreds if not thousands of cards. We also kept a bulldog clip of cards for “hot” buyers on our desks for priority notifications.
As computers came in, we were able to send out bulletins every week to the mailing list – I know a lot of buyers appreciated the regular contact, even if what we were sending didn’t always apply to them.
With the advent of Rightmove and the other property portals, buyer behaviour began to change – some preferred to watch from afar rather than register. Our mailing list now is a third of the size it would have been 15 years ago, but there are still plenty of serious buyers who value being called directly.
These days, we have even more avenues of communication as technology continues to evolve and our “mailing list” now encompasses all sorts of techniques from old and new schools, although very few of them now involve the humble postage stamp! Here are a few examples of what we now mean by “mailing list”;
1. Buyer database – most estate agents run a property software system (we use Jupix) where we can register and store buyer information in an easily searchable format. We can also cross reference viewers from similar properties or filter searches via any set of criteria then email or call any number of buyers.
2. Social media – it may not be to every agents taste and, even if they use it, some deal with social media differently to others. As well as local news and discussion topics, we use our Facebook page for priority notification of new properties to our followers – we have a specific hashtag to denote a new instruction and we always promise to release on Facebook 4 – 12 hours before Rightmove and other websites. After several years of building our audience in this fashion, we now have over 1100 followers on Facebook, receive calls within minutes of posting and have sold plenty of properties directly from leads generated off either Facebook or Twitter posts.
3. High Street office window – this may seem an odd point to include in a definition of a “mailing list” but a regularly updated window display on a busy community high street always generates enquiries. Just last week we received an offer from DFL (down from London) buyers who spotted a house in our window and viewed the same day. The principle is also the same for estate agents boards – often the first thing an agent does is put up a board and those that spot it quickly get a head start on others.
4. Company websites – property portals may take time to update their information from agents but details on our own website can be added at will. We have a hard core of serious buyers who have bookmarked or receive alerts from our site for this reason, especially our very popular “Property of the Week” page.
5. Property portals – all the major websites will offer a “save search and receive automatic update” option and uploading a new property will create an “alert” sent to buyers who have advised their criteria. The more portals used, the greater the reach.
Two decades ago, we posted or phoned. These days we still phone but also email, upload, display and post updates. The “mailing list” has just evolved to reflect the behaviour of buyers and what communication stream is most relevant to them – there are now pro-active and reactive elements but the results are the same.
Oh and, as regards what prices are achieved from different uses of a mailing list, the latest figures from an independent source (GetAgent.co.uk) are;
% of asking price achieved –
Madison Oakley 99.1%
Other Agent 98.3%
Average selling time –
Madison Oakley 9 weeks
Other agent 10 weeks