At one point or another, we’ve all dealt with estate agents, and more than likely heard some horror stories about those encounters if you haven’t dealt with it directly. Estate agents have fallen into some difficult times recently; but what is happening to change it?
At the moment, with the weak market and unstable outlook in the political stance of the country, there is a distinct lack of confidence from the public in all sectors. Corporate state agents are being hit hard with many suffering from mass redundancies, closures and downsizing to stay afloat.
Some agents took to going online, but have struggled to maintain themselves in this way, and yet when you look at the Property Franchise Group, they reported strong figures even with the economic and political plights. This raises the question; is the industry dying or simply evolving?
Some key reasons that are resulting in franchise estate agents managing to stay afloat whilst others are struggling:
Franchises are often able to keep costs low, whereas starting an independent agency from scratch can be expensive and large corporations tend to get burdened with costs.
It can often be hard to feel recognised in a corporate structure, and strong managers or negotiators may not get the reward or recognition that they feel they deserve from the work that they do. This tends to lead to a decline in motivation and a decline in service. Because franchised estate agents have invested, they have more motivation to succeed which can give stronger results.
Franchises tend to have a wide team of experts that means the agents can focus on developing their property knowledge and building relationships with landlords and vendors.
As a franchised estate agent they have the freedom to work when they want, how they want. This isn’t usually the case in a corporate setting and because of this agents can often be demotivated if they have a family at home but have to work long hours in the office. As franchised agents can choose their hours and be their own boss, this freedom can make them more motivated.
The basic franchise model will mean that they get a larger cut out of any sale that they make than they would working for a company. This raises their standard as the better service they offer the more they sell, and the more they sell the more money they get.
The changes in the industry
Consumer trust and faith in big corporations have shifted; the trust now seems to lie in smaller, independent companies rather than large corporations. These smaller independent companies can offer a more personalised experience than some of the bigger corporations which is what consumers look for; an experience that the high street agents often aren’t able to provide.
There is also the impact of online shopping to consider; it is now so easy to do almost anything online it encourages customers not to bother meeting people face-to-face as they can take care of their business from the comfort of the own home. This isn’t always the case; whilst online estate agencies can share brand marketing easily and make themselves known, there is often a lower standard of customer service as their prices are lower.
Because of this, self-employed agents are filling the gaps in the market to give customers the service other agents are missing. As these independent agents have the freedom to work when and where they want with a higher reward, they strive to make the most out of their business.
How to choose the right agent
It can be overwhelming looking through agents, and knowing how to narrow it down can save you a lot of time and stress if you’re struggling to make a decision.
Firstly, you need to decide what kind of agent you want to go with. If you’d prefer to go down the traditional route you can go with an estate agent that’s local and has an office that you can go into and speak directly to the agent. This is often the favoured way, as these agents will do almost all of the work for you, whereas if you choose an online agent you may need to do more of the work yourself.
You will also only be able to communicate via phone or email which some people don’t like, so it’s worth considering what will work best for you.
Once you’ve chosen the type of agent you want, you need to make a shortlist of potential agents to go ahead with. It’s important to research them, ask friends and family who they have used in the past and how they found the experience. Make sure you know the positives and potential negatives of any estate agent that you consider so you know exactly what you’re dealing with.
Whilst doing your research, check the quality of the other properties that they’re selling and how they advertise. If they have unclear or unflattering photo and very little detail, you might decide to avoid that agent and choose another that has put more time into the advertisement of the properties.
You may also choose to pop into the branch closest to you and speak to the agents there. This will often give you a better feel for their business and help highlight any problems early on to avoid issues later down the line.
When you get your property valued, don’t just have one agent visit. If you can have it valued by three or more to see what sort of price they all come back with; it’s likely they will all be similar but if one is massively different spend some time asking them to justify it. Sometimes agents will know something about your area or your property that the others don’t which could mean that it’s worth more than you thought.
You should also make sure that you’re completely upfront with the agents. If you’re looking for a quick sale, let them know this straight away so you can get realistic expectations. On average it can be two-three months to sell a property; if you’re looking to sell considerably faster than this tell any agents straight away as this may not be possible with them. For a quick sale of a house, consider visiting We Buy Any House for a free offer.
Ask as many questions as you can think of whilst meeting the various estate agents. Find out what sets them apart from the others and what sort of contact you can expect from them. You want to make sure that you won’t be chasing them for updates so it’s important to ask this. You also want to ask about the fees of selling your house with them. There shouldn’t be any hidden costs so knowing exactly what you’re signing up for is important.
Knowing all of this should make your experience as smooth as possible, and give you a bit of insight into how estate agents are changing to make sure you get the best out of your experience.
By Holly Herbert, of We Buy Any House