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By Phil Spencer

Founder, Move iQ


Phil Spencer - reasons why buying and selling makes sense right now

Let’s be completely honest - as challenges go, estate agents are up against it trying to persuade reluctant vendors to take the plunge this autumn.

Of course, there are always those people that have to move, but what are the incentives for discretionary sellers in the light of 10 per cent inflation, a cost-of-living crisis, mayhem in the city, mortgage rates rising, a European war and political uncertainty all around at home?

I told you I was going to be completely honest!


Yet perhaps surprisingly, there really are some reasons why selling and buying right now makes sense: the most committed agents will want to emphasise those reasons where they can.

Firstly, not every potential buyer has a mortgage or needs one in future.

Government figures show 36 per cent of homes are owned outright without a mortgage while three quarters of the remainder are on fixed interest mortgages so - for the moment at least - they won’t feel the most severe pain from Bank of England rate rises. And official data shows 45 per cent of landlords also have no mortgage at all.

So, all these prospective buyers are good to go, despite the adverse economic conditions.

Secondly, and the other side of the same coin, buyer appetite remains strong with few pulling out of deals.

It’s been reported that the volume of sales agreed four days after the Chancellor’s controversial mini-Budget was the highest number in one day since early August. And looking at September as a whole, fall-throughs were firmly in line with long-term rates for that month.

Thirdly - and even after the past couple of weeks - there’s also some reassuring news that agents can pass on about future mortgage availability.

According to the Bank of England, some 74,300 mortgage approvals were recorded in August, up by 16 per cent from 63,700 the previous month. This was the highest level since January and reflects people securing loans ahead of mortgage rates rises.

And UK Finance - the umbrella body representing lenders - says the vast majority of those mortgage products withdrawn from the market in that difficult week in late September will return, albeit repriced for this period of higher interest rates.

No one’s denying the problem of rising interest rates but figures like those from the Bank show there are canny buyers ‘doing the right thing’ to safeguard finances and allow them to continue with house purchases. That should reassure reluctant sellers that they can, with confidence, come to the market.

OK - enough figures, and now let’s look at what agents can themselves do to maximise their business in what might turn out to be a thinner period for transactions.

I’ve always been a fan of PropTech that works for agents as much as sellers, and that includes a lot of so-called ‘nurturing’ technology that’s recently come on the market.

The big corporates have been doing this for some time, but the latest technology offers the same opportunities to the smallest of agencies too.

This all revolves around ‘looking after’ - or nurturing - leads that come in from enquiries to the portals, visitors walking into branch offices, calls and emails left after hours, or even word of mouth from previous customers ‘in the know’ about others interested in selling.

One technology firm claims 55 per cent of leads which come to estate agents are incredibly early-stage enquiries - perhaps via an automated valuation tool on the agency’s website - and are not followed up beyond an initial call or email. It claims that if agents went further and kept in touch with those individuals over the following weeks and months, many of those leads would convert into real vendors paying commission.

Agents can also use social media more and better - many do this brilliantly already, of course, so don’t be afraid to learn from those who use Facebook in particular to engage with potential sellers, sometimes months ahead of their actual decision to sell.

My next suggestion is a nostalgic swing back in time - the touting letter.

This can be targeted either at those names on your own database (another form of nurturing, really) or can be a blanket delivery to a geographical area of potential sellers.

Without wanting to sound like a veteran, it’s likely that many younger agents - who will only have known a time when the housing market was strong, interest rates were low, and sales were dependent on the portals - may not have used the touting letter before.

But it’s tried and tested, promotes your brand, and asks upfront whether people want to sell. You can rest assured some competitors in your area will do this unless you get in first.

Finally, and repeating a point I’ve made in the past here on Estate Agent Today, it’s a real USP for agents to appear authoritative, informed, approachable and sympathetic to the circumstances of sellers and buyers alike - that’s never been more important than now, with the market and the wider economy in a volatile mood.

As a way of achieving that goal of being regarded as a trusted friend, there are many tools on my Move iQ site which agents could point to, in a bid to help current and future clients. We have practical guides on mortgages, choosing agents, tips for selling in varying kinds of market - in other words a lot of practical help, which we hope you can recommend.

We’re in a fast-changing landscape for the market right now so the public, as well as our industry, need the maximum information to perform at their best.

Good luck - and let’s speak again next month.

*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.


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