Cruel To Be Kind.
I've Gotta Be Cruel to be kind.
Because there's epidemic failure, right now, throughout the estate agency sector.
Is Estate Agency broken, asks Christopher Watkin?
And the answer he is given is that it's not broken. It's going through change.
Well, change for certain. But change for the better? Or worse?
Let's view it from the vendors' perspective.
A more fragmented industry. The potential demise of the high-street branch.
Agents effectively working from home.
Few barriers to entry.
The proliferation of cheap fees and up-front payment. With an invitation to the vendor to do-much-of-it-yourself.
Take your own photos. Conduct your own viewings. Manage your own dashboard.
An environment where, because of the internet, conmen & hucksters are given equal billing with twenty five year industry veterans,
An industry where, because of a toothless Advertising Watchdog, agencies can say pretty much what they like.
Without fear of reprisal. A virtual slap on the wrist.
Vendors have little faith, never mind trust, in estate agents.
What they're probably thinking, but won't say to your face?
Let's not hesitate.
We've seen your competitors and there's not much difference. Every agency claims to be as good, if not better, than the next. But they can't prove it, without recourse to shiny awards and flaky reviews on social media.
You're not confident enough to charge a higher fee. So you charge less than you're worth. And, consequently, even that is more than we'd like to pay.
Passionate? Honest? Determined? Just a string of meaningless adjectives until you can show us how.
If our home is worth £1 million, we're not overly keen on appointing an agency that has a portfolio of homes from £200k to £600k. So stop pestering us until you specialise in that price range.
Besides the avalanche of dreary leaflets coming through our letterbox, the cold-call thinly disguised as a market survey and the uninvited knock on our door to introduce your 'new' agency, we're more annoyed by the scant regard you give to what matters most:
Other than that your agency might sell more homes. For a higher price. At a lower fee.
So, an industry that I observe to be broken.
And one currently asking the wrong people to fix it..
Tweaks here. An adjustment there.
10X, the effort. Hustle and transact.
Survival of the fittest.
The 'millionaire mindset.'
Social media sycophancy.
Striving to adopt what others term, 'best practice.'
"Being compliant with best practice is being complicit with creating commodity work." - Jay Acunzo.
You're being given a band-aid.
When what's needed is an operation.
If the estate agency sector is simply going through change, the question that really needs asking is this:
Who benefits from this change?
If it's the agency. And that results in higher profits, will that change impact the perception vendors have of the sector as a whole?
Will it turn a sceptical and trepidatious public into firm believers?
I venture not!
A more profitable, more efficient sector.
But one that still suffers from the same public perception.
Estate agents aren't trusted.
Any change involves risk.
And risk involves fear.
Will these new hybrid agents be as good as the traditional high street agencies?
Can they really do the job for such a low fee?
If my home doesn't sell at the asking price, what's plan B?
What if? What if?
They need someone to hold their hand.
And that better not be the hand of a total stranger.
"Don't talk to strangers." was wise advice from my Gran'.
But in most cases, that's precisely what most agents are asking the vendor to do.
So our thinking remains the same.
"We still don't know anything about you."
But when we do.
Know something about you.
The broken estate agency sector will be fixed.
Not everyone will like you. But every agent will be liked.
And eventually trusted.
There's a lid for every pot. As my Gran' used to remind me.
It's then just a matter of finding the 'lid' that fits.
Rather than pretending that any 'lid' will do.
Until estate agents become more transparent, vendors will assume the worst.
i.e. you're an estate agent. Just like all the rest.
Whether that's true, or not, by association that's what they think.
And no amount of awards or social media likes are going to convince.
That you're the right agent for them.
Tell them who you are.
Not what you do. Or, even why you do what you do.
"If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him you're his sincere friend." - Abraham Lincoln.
Tell them what matters to you. Your beliefs & convictions.
Tell them a story.
" The shortest distance between two people is a story." - Patti Digh
When more agencies tell their story, gradually and then suddenly, the industry will no longer be broken.
Vendors will identify with agents they want to work with. They will ignore the rest.
Story helps enormously. But something helps even more.
Agents that desire to be different, to be something other than just another estate agent, need this one thing.
A Personal Brand.
An identity, if you will.
And specifically, a narrative woven around their identity.
A narrative, not a script, that will change minds.
The minds of vendors that thought all estate agents were practically the same.
Until they heard of you.
And heard how scarce, estate agents like you are.
That's the diagnosis for fixing a 'broken industry.'
And it's only you that's going to fix it.
I wish you well if you're in need of a remedy, not some quick fix. It can be intimidating, but if I can help, just let me know.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
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