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Phil Spencer - Nurture, Not Nature, Will Help Agents In This Market

It’s the start of what promises - perhaps ‘threatens’ is a better word - to be a challenging second half of 2023 for the agency industry.

As I write this, news has come through of a 27 per cent drop in property transactions in May, the latest figure available from the government. As this number relates to completed transactions, you’ll have seen that trend developing some months earlier, of course.

And while not every figure is quite as disappointing (house prices are still surprisingly robust and even mortgage applications remain relatively strong) there’s no getting away from the fact that winning an instruction and guiding the deal through to completion will be tougher during the coming months than has been the case for quite a few years now.


Drawing On Experience 

For the more experienced agents it will be time to draw on past practice. 

It won’t be a case of just putting a property on Rightmove and Zoopla and waiting for the enquiries to roll in: it’s going to be time to draw on all the people-management skills and customer relations as well as property industry insight and experience.

There will have to be daily calls to that list of interested prospective buyers to drum up some appetite; there may be Open Houses and other techniques which may have been felt largely unnecessary in better economic times; there will be interventions on behalf of sellers and buyers meaning even longer hours in the office chasing delays up and down chains.

And there will be a need to calm the nerves of sellers who fear buyers will get cold feet, and some gentle pushing of purchasers who might be tempted to sit tight, thinking prices will drop if they give things another month or two. 

Nurturing A Potential Client

But something to always develop further is the act of ‘nurturing’ clients.

This is something of a modern term for what many customer-facing organisations regard as straightforward business practice - building positive long-term relationships with home owners even if they are not immediately ready to sell. 

What does this mean in practical terms?

It means as soon as you get a potential lead from a portal or your own website, you rapidly return the call or email. You know a high proportion of contacts with agents come outside of office hours now, so a swift response looks efficient and talks the language of business.

You could then perhaps offer a no-obligation automated or in-person valuation even though you sense the enquiry is very tentative; you may even have to explain that potential asking prices today will have changed by the time the enquirer formally commits. 

So wouldn’t that be a waste of your time and theirs? No! Doing this, instead of simply saying “Let’s do a valuation when you’re sure you’re ready to sell” means you literally get a foot in the door and your name and face becomes known to them.

Even if you hear nothing from them again for a week or so, follow up with a text, email, call or even a visit - if they’re happy for a face-to-face - in order to hand over information on your contacts in the surveying, conveyancing and mortgage worlds. 

Nothing from them again for a week or two? Then send over some local market information - more detailed and useful than they will be able to get from a newspaper report on the latest house price index. Show you are the local expert, without pushing them to commit.

After another period of time, perhaps give some hints on how to prepare a home for sale, both for the agents to give appraisals and then for the most productive viewings. 

All the time you are drip feeding this, you are keeping your brand and name uppermost in their minds - but in an informative, not pushy way.

Then when the time is right - and perhaps it could be two months or so after the initial inquiry - ask your potential customer whether they’re ready to start the process properly.

Does Nurturing Work?

We can all give experiences of our time in the industry when we court some potential business only for the customer to then shock us by using a rival - that, alas, is what freedom of choice means in a consumer society!

But by appearing to be a trusted and patient friend, giving a potential client some useful information without constantly pushing them to make a now-or-never decision, you become a respected expert and local authority, rather than ‘just another agent’. 

Don’t Forget Technology

If all of this sounds great in practice but a nightmare to organise when it involves literally dozens of potential leads, each at a different stage of making up their mind, don’t fear. There are plenty of nurturing tools from PropTech suppliers now, so try some out.

It’s clear that with nurturing, technology can only get you so far however. When it comes to the building of relationships required to win instructions and repeat business, there’s no beating the personal human touch that good estate agency is all about.

Whatever route you take, the important thing is to at least try to nurture future business.

Alas you will not be able to reverse a trend of falling transactions caused by ‘macro’ issues like interest rates, inflation and political instability.

But by doing the ‘micro’ - showing you are the most caring and approachable agent in your patch - you might well be able to grab a bigger slice of that smaller cake for your business.

Good luck … and see you 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. Move iQ Pro, is Phil’s resource to support agents and has recently launched a video marketing product. Contact amanda@moveiQ.co.uk to find out more. 

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    If there was ever a time to realise that you can do little about the cyclical nature of bull and bear housing markets, but you can automate your agency operations so that you are nurturing all opportunities 24/7, it would be now. As a NED of nurtur.accelerator, an enterprise which looks to breathe life into best of each vertical in real estate solutions, clearly the market is at a point of inflection, and new ways to do all things, should be looked at and where appropriate added to an agents toolbox.

    Yes the personal contact and client management by humans is important, but the digital transformation of realestate that I have been banging on about for nearly seven years has come of age, and tech enabled agents will weather this current storm and the other storms that come better than analogue agents using systems based upon the last century.

    As we see 'Threads' may or may not become a thing, 32M new users in a blink of an eye can make a new way to do something - the way to do something, technology can and will reshape the world of agency, the question is are you an early adopter, follow the crowd, or coming to the party at a later stage, risks and rewards for all of these strategies.


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