For many, paying money to use an estate agent is primarily because that company has a database of buyers or tenants. Of course, the agent’s job entails more than that, but from the public’s perspective, access to that golden database is key.
As such, certain companies such as Savills or Knight Frank continue to have no issues charging higher fees due to their perceived ability to access their exclusive network of buyers and tenants.
But for most small independent agents, Rightmove and other portals are a curse in this regard as the public, rightly or wrongly, often feel like it is the portals that have the database and as such the cheapest agent that can advertise them there wins the day, causing a problem for agents to justify their fees while on the valuation.
However, agents all over the country have started the process of taking this power back and away from the portals by advertising something called ‘Heads Up’ property alerts. The process is both simple but genius, with participating agents running adverts on social media, such as the one in the link above, letting people know that they can fully register themselves into the agent’s database and receive alerts around suggested properties before they even hit the portals.
Mark Burgess, CEO of Iceberg Digital, the creators of Lifesycle, the estate agency software that does this, says:
“The idea of an agent launching properties to their database or website before the portals is not a new one, but the Heads Up function inside Lifesycle takes this idea and makes it better for both the agent and the consumer, as applicants register themselves directly into Lifesycle and then instantly see the properties that could work for them on a percentage-based match."
"This goes from an 100% match right down to a 30% match in a similar way to how you view TV shows and movies on something like Netflix.”
He added: “The agent can then actually see which properties their applicants have been looking at, making the process of getting viewings booked much simpler. Then, whenever a new property falls within that 100% to 30% match of an applicant in the future, the system will do the matching for you automatically, making sure you not only deliver on your promise to let people know about properties before the portals, but to give buyers and tenants a real reason to register with you.”
“And, in turn, make your database and your company more important and vital to the seller or landlord than any of the portals, allowing you to really justify your fee.”
But what are the agents actually using it saying?
Andrew Sharpe of Sure Property Sales & Lettings says: “The team no longer have to make random calls to uninterested buyers and tenants, Lifesycle automatically matches the right people to the right property. Turning multiple enquiries in to pre-qualified and matched buyers and tenants automatically allowing the team to focus on the right people and freeing up their time to be more proactive.
Katie Cromwell from No. 86 Estate Agency adds: “The ‘Heads Up’ property alerts are amazing. We love the auto match facility, we know which clients are most active, how interested they are in the property by the number of views and who to ring to book in. It’s a game changer. We have had so many buyers wanting to register so they can see our new properties before the go live on the portals.”
Meanwhile, Rhian Daniell of Alexanders Estate Agency comments: “‘Heads Up’ property alerts have allowed us and other agents to get back in charge of the industry by collecting our own data and not be reliant on property portals. Applicants can simply create their own profile and our system will constantly give them the ‘Heads Up’ on suggested properties and price reductions that might specifically interest them. We are pleased with the results so far and our applicants can sit and not worry about ever missing a property again."
James Burgess of Elliott Lee Estate Agents adds: “The ‘Heads Up’ property alerts have given buyers a reason to want to work with us to help them find their perfect property. It’s ultra-specific in its requirements so there are no irrelevant properties being sent to them and they also know they will be the first to be told about new to market properties with us.”
Burgess said Lifesycle 2 now incorporates not ‘just the marketing functions of an estate agency but the traditional functions of uploading properties to portals, booking viewings, sales progression and so on’.
This, he adds, is changing the way in which estate agents use their software on a daily basis and in doing so creating the most powerful estate agency software in the world.