What this means is that pushing which portals an agency lists on is unlikely to clinch many instructions these days as providing access to the portals has become a bare minimum.
So, how can agents demonstrate they are proactive marketeers and add more value than their competitors when pitching for instructions?
Nothing beats proactive
When it comes to speaking to prospective vendors, proactive is likely to be one of the words most commonly used by agents. It's a word that consumers will certainly value, but the key for agents is demonstrating how they are proactive.
If sellers are becoming wise to the fact that merely listing a property on Rightmove and Zoopla isn't going to get it sold quickly, they will be wanting to know the steps an agency takes to proactively promote their property.
Targeting their existing database and having a list of ready-to-go buyers is something that most agents do, but does it receive the prominence it should when pitching for a listing?
Explaining to sellers how you nurture prospects and the steps you take as soon as a listing hits the market will certainly be appealing.
These days, being a proactive agent also relates to how you can help sellers with other parts of the moving process. Over the last year, getting transactions completed quickly has become a big talking point.
Sellers will be impressed with agents who explain how they can help to get their transaction over the line, whether it’s through proactive sales progression or specific actions such as instructing a conveyancer at the earliest opportunity. Sales progression is such a crucial element of an agent’s role - and never more so than at the moment.
On top of this, showing sellers all the other services you can provide from mortgage advice to legal representation or help with removals will help you stand out to an increasing number of consumers who want an all-in-one package from their agent.
What else makes your proposition stand out?
If demonstrating how you are proactive is one method of impressing prospective vendors, what are the other aspects of your offering that your competitors aren't offering?
Many consumers will increasingly be interested to know how you're using social media platforms to target buyers. Facebook and Google ads have been a cost-effective go-to for many agents, while Facebook Marketplace's influence is slowly growing.
Instagram has become a vital tool for many agents, particularly those working at the higher end of the market. Meanwhile, dare I say it, some of the most innovative and socially-focused agents will have their eye on TikTok and working out how it can become part of their marketing armoury in the future.
It is becoming increasingly important to consider how you position your agency when it comes to social media, rather than the fact that you merely use it.
Have you really embraced social media or is it just a box-ticking exercise? Can you show sellers how social platforms can help to sell their property with previous examples and statistics?
Another key aspect of an agency's offering to consider is virtual viewings. The rise of virtual viewings over the last year has been phenomenal for obvious reasons.
As with social media, we have now reached a tipping point where solely offering virtual viewings is not enough, it is now a minimum expectation from sellers.
Your virtual offering can stand out as an instruction winner with use of the best technology available, examples of how these viewings have helped to sell properties and a slick, professional process.
Agents can benefit from demonstrating that they are no longer offering virtual viewings solely due to the pandemic, rather that they have embraced them as an important part of selling a property for good.
Trust and honest advice more important than ever
Everyone is aware of the tricky economic conditions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The stamp duty holiday is due to end soon, while furlough and business support will not be available forever.
As I wrote in a recent blog, this could lead to rising unemployment and an inevitable lull in market activity.
Of course, the vaccine rollout and the certainty provided by Brexit can underpin optimism and sentiment, but there is no doubting the challenges ahead.
Prospective sellers will increasingly be drawn to agents who can strike the balance between seeing the positives and accounting for tricky market conditions.
Building trust and providing honest advice have always been an important part of an estate agent’s role and these attributes will be so crucial to ensuring repeat business over the coming years.
No matter what portals an agency lists on, a combination of being proactive, demonstrating what features sets them apart from competitors and being a source of advice and reassurance can impress the typical 2021 vendor.
*Phil Spencer is a presenter, author, businessman and property investor. Phil’s consumer advice platform Move iQ, is a website, YouTube channel and podcast. Each preserve and reflect the same impartiality that consumers trust and base their property moving plans. Coming soon: Move iQ Pro, Phil’s resource to support the property community. Stay tuned ready for launch!