A story from America caught my eye this week. It’s about a company called Curbio partnering with another called The Keyes Company.
The partnership isn’t what really interests me here, it’s Curbio’s offering that I want to talk about.
The Maryland-based company offers renovation services for those looking to sell their home; uniquely, payment for these renovations can be deferred until the sale of the property is complete.
The idea is that renovations will allow for a higher asking price and increase the likelihood of a successful sale. The offer of deferred payment suggests it has great confidence in its model.
I like this idea a lot. In fact, only yesterday I was talking to a family friend who is currently trying to sell their house and facing the exact dilemma that Curbio hopes to address.
“I can’t be bothered to do anything, James,” she said to me, knowing that there are certain things one should do to increase value and sale potential, but, like so many others, reluctant to do so.
For most, this reluctance is born either from lack of confidence and practical knowledge, or an unwillingness to dedicate the required effort and added expense.
My response to her was, “spend a few pennies to add some pounds to the value”. In polite a way as possible, I explained that she was, like so many others, being short-sighted at the potential for easy wins.
But then I thought again - is it really her responsibility to know about these things and implement them? Isn’t that what she’s hired an agent for?
It’s the agent who should know about Curbio and be recommending its services to vendors. So, I went back and read the original article again, because that’s exactly what The Keyes Company - a brokerage firm - is doing with this partnership. More should now follow suit.
An agent with added value
When valuing a property, you have to gain the trust of the potential vendor - they have to know you are on their side. This is what makes them want to work with you. Help them, service them, go that extra mile that others won’t.
Yes, we should give them an initial valuation as we always do, but then we should be explaining to them how they can add extra value.
It’s about making them more money - they will love you for it and trust that you are working in their interests. You, of course, get a bigger payday from it, too. Everyone wins.
It’s all playing into the psychology of the sale. Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) are a wonderful thing - I have discussed them a lot previously. They are a great lead generator, and they help agents get through the front door. But, it’s not until after this moment that the true importance of the agent’s role kicks in.
Yes, you can flatter a home owner and give a bullish valuation in order to secure the listing, or you can choose to genuinely help them and be on their side. Part of the latter is knowing about solutions like Curbio.
According to the Curbio website, its solutions deliver an average ROI of 209% on renovation costs by increasing home value by an average of $50,000. It also claims that its clients’ homes spend 58 fewer days on the market compared to the average.
What’s not to love? It’s hassle-free for you and your vendor. Perhaps most critically, it gives you a reason to follow up with potential clients, thus helping form a stronger relationship with them. This is what agency is all about!
Forget thinking only about end-game commercial outcomes because that often leads to the majority of the process being neglected. It’s this which really aggravates vendors and ruins trust.
When you’re an active presence throughout the whole process, not only do you capture the loyalty of the client, you also capture the potential virality of service provision.
Consider the discussions your clients will have with friends and family, all of whom are potential future clients of yours. It might go something like this:
“I had three valuations, all pretty similar, but one of them was far more helpful with suggestions on how I could increase the value of my home. One such suggestion was a complete renovation of the downstairs, work which I wouldn’t have to pay for until the house sold.”
“In one day, not only did I receive a quote for the work, but I also instructed the work to begin and the agent to start marketing. It was easy. My house quickly sold for forty thousand more than originally quoted, just a small cut of which I then paid out for the renovations.”
I know, I know - people don’t really talk like this, but you get the idea. I’m not talking about reinventing the wheel, here.
I just think innovative yet simple ideas like Curbio’s are incredibly valuable to agents. They remind us of the agent’s true role - to add value to the client experience and the transaction in equal measure.
When this happens, everyone comes out happy. It’s because so many have given up on this side of the job that online agents are able to become a threat and sites like MumsNet and AllAgents are rife with consumer disdain.
Simple and effective - that’s good agency. Sometimes, it takes a new tech innovation to remind us of this.