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Kristjan Byfield
Kristjan Byfield
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About Me

my expertise in the industry

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Kristjan Byfield

From: Kristjan Byfield 16 May 2017 16:54 PM

Kristjan Byfield

From: Kristjan Byfield 05 April 2017 14:12 PM

Kristjan Byfield

From: Kristjan Byfield 01 April 2017 12:49 PM

Kristjan Byfield
James, as usual, bang on the money. OEAs are not (generally) a threat to agents- if you can justify/demonstrate how the human element of your business delivers a different service to digital-only. That said, the genera marketing message of certain agents needs to be adjusted to be so 'anti industry' and I am still staggered at the lack of action in THIS regard by the likes of NAEA. However, I firmly beleive it is traditionalists that are killing their own business. Our agency is full service, yet we have adopted loads of PropTech to streamline & automate the inner workings. To date, we have/are using: jupix, propertyfile, move it, eyespy360, movebubble, docusign, ValPal and many more. The result? We are freed up to focus on the consumer experience. And yes, I do bloody well mean the consumer. Whilst we have clients, our focus on service for all should be paramount to every full-service agent out there. By embracing tech, yet remaining a small independent team with (currently just 5 staff) we keep winning awards, get amazing (and genuine) reviews, should get close to 700k turnover this year (on target to hit our 1m target by 2020) and we operate at nearly 50% profit. Literally a win all round. It was interesting talking to so many agents at the ARLA event yesterday, still an overwhleming divide between tech savvy & tech cautious agents. I find it mind-boggling when I meet senior agency staff who respond with 'it worked for the last 10 years so why change it'. Whilst independents are far more dynamic and can adapt and test solutions quickly, too many are far too slow to do so. Meanwhile, although the adoption process is much slower, the larger agents appear far more aware of the benefits of tech and are not only doing so but are actively seeking out the next thing round the corner. I would love to know the correlation between the tech-cautious agents and those that are constantly bemoaning sliding fees, OEA threat, etc. Im guessing this will be rather strong. Tech, like electronics, has become so reasonable and affordable that there is little excuse for agents NOT to try things. However, when doing so, agents need to fully commit to the transition- which will involve embedding new procedures, retraining staff and regualr checks to review adopton, feedback & performance.

From: Kristjan Byfield 29 March 2017 15:03 PM

Kristjan Byfield

From: Kristjan Byfield 13 March 2017 11:44 AM

Kristjan Byfield

From: Kristjan Byfield 24 February 2017 13:25 PM

Kristjan Byfield

From: Kristjan Byfield 21 February 2017 11:14 AM

Kristjan Byfield
Great article Graham with some very interesting points, however I think far too many people are rushing to put CIELA and its objectives in a box. Not only that, but many are also quick to state what a categorical failure it is bound to be for X, Y and Z reasons. For now, all we want agents to know is that we understand the struggle. We get this issues and challenges and hurdles that we need to overcome. We don’t profess to know the all the answers, but we have some great ideas and, if we combine that with the voices of most of the independents in the UK, over time we can find solutions to these issues and truly champion our vital sector of this much embattled industry. Here are some of my thoughts on the various points raised in this article and I believe I am right in saying that they are shared by many- but my no means represent any set position of CIELA- it’s simply far too early for that yet. On The Market- this was not a representative body but a portal set out with 2 exclusive goals: to destabilise the monopoly of RM & ZPG and to massively reduce the portal listing costs of agents. That's it. Nothing more. It didn't set out to deliver new tech tools to help agents be more efficient, offer wider services, lead with innovation or seek to raise the profile of its member agents for any reason (other than listing with OTM). It had no consumer goal- it wasn't aiming to be the most responsive portal on the market, or the fastest loading, it didn’t seek to deliver a revolutionary product or layout for users, deliver a unique bridge between portals and social media........I could go on. It was a selfish goal that really focused on one thing and one thing only- cutting agents overheads. It placed its objectives above those of its member agents- applying the OOP rule and also asking agents to list properties with them several days before any other listings- including their own websites, thereby actually downgrading the SEO value delivered to the agents own site for their own stock. For an industry with such a bad perception (right or wrong) such a selfish motivation was always heading for almost certain failure. NAEA/ARLA/etc- There is no denying that these organisations help ensure a certain level of professional standards in an unlicensed industry. They are ‘voluntary regulators’. They train and educate agents, look to raise standards through compliance, and this is great, but as agents, especially today, we need more. They are not a consumer recognised brand and, as such, ultimately deliver little if any 'face value' in this respect. They are unwilling/unable to be the voice for agents in the media challenging the stereotypes and counteracting the negative stories with tales of success, innovation, excellence and (god forbid) the personal tales of Tenants/Landlords/Buyers/Sellers loving their agents and what they do for them. What is more they are, and must be, market-wide regulators embracing the evolution, innovation and spectrum of our industry. RM & ZPG- personally I have found that agents’ apparent ‘hatred’ towards these organisations is largely unfounded. When I talk to agents from any part of the country that are doing well (whether that be a start-up, seasoned or large established entity) they almost unanimously see huge value in what these products deliver in terms of results (applicant enquiries) and the ROI these deliver. Usually this comes down to understanding the metrics and monitoring your marketing activity. I doubt many agents out there can dispute the value in deals done with leads through these portals’ core subscriptions. However, if you are spending hundreds or even thousands a month on featured agents and post code banners and getting no leads- then this isn’t the portals failing (per se) this is the agent wasting the money on a product that doesn’t deliver. That money should be reassigned elsewhere- perhaps to social media marketing, flyers, local events & sponsorship. This expenditure should keep ‘moving’ until the right solution is found that delivers that agents the results they are seeking. After all, you wouldn’t keep a negotiator employed if they never did any deals so why would you keep spending money on a specific product with no proven results? If you’re spending £3k (or more) a month on additional ‘brand value’ products and getting little or no ROI- why don’t you hire someone whose sole objective is generating valuations? Or maybe offer a luxury holiday giveaway each month drawn from any valuations (sales and lettings) undertaken each month? Corporates & Online Agents- most agents actually totally understand the fact that the market will evolve- in a world of Facebook, uber and Deliveroo how can it not? However, the issue, at least in the wider media, is how do Independents challenge the two dominating messages out there- namely: ‘Why on earth choose a single-office/small agent to represent you when an organisation with hundreds of offices is much better?’ AND (of course) ‘Why keep wasting money on ‘rip-off agents’ when you can pay 10% and get exactly the same thing from online?’ How do we challenge this? To engage on an individual level ultimately comes across petty and is perceived as a weakness. That you must be losing the fight or must be lying to try and fight off the inevitable switch to online-only. Is there a point having a small independent advert extolling that agent’s values and benefits muddled in amongst 15 pages of glossy corporate adverts listings hundreds/thousands of properties, new offices, huge networks or new build schemes. There is a negative voice bubbling under our industry- in fact bubbling under almost every aspect of our lives. It seeks to proclaim why a company, service or organisation is rubbish/criminal/incompetent or some elaborate coup. It all too quickly slings unfounded, and often highly inaccurate, accusations around- for why, who really knows. We must not engage in this. Most of the agents who read this will (I sincerely hope) identify with a lot of what I have written here. They may not agree on my perspective and they may have a totally different idea on how to tackle it- but that is exactly HOW we will tackle and oversee these challenges. That is how we can rise up and represent our industry in the truest of lights. Through debate and discussion, through attempt and (god forbid) failure, through achievements big and small we can champion our fantastic industry and, in time, change the perception held by so many. But this will only be possible if the lion’s share of our sector do one simple initial thing- agree to unite in finding a solution. CIELA, I believe, truly represents a remarkable opportunity- one that agents up and down the country have been begging for for years…..even if they didn’t realise it until now. So, let’s not categorise it just yet; let’s not stick it in a box; let’s not doom it to instant and definitive failure; let’s not imagine treachery of some Machiavellian mastery. Let’s just accept that we agree on some of the key challenges ahead and let’s work together, let’s challenge each other, to overcome these and to become an industry that adds value to people’s property lives.

From: Kristjan Byfield 21 January 2017 13:23 PM

Kristjan Byfield

From: Kristjan Byfield 06 January 2017 17:41 PM

Kristjan Byfield

From: Kristjan Byfield 22 December 2016 13:55 PM

Kristjan Byfield
The eternal issue with all things property is that they always get discussed on a national scale- which is madness. How can you possibly put an agent working in far flung regions where rents average £400 a month with London agents with average rents around £3000 per month. The implications are vastly different- do many (if any) have any sympathy for the likes of Foxtons? With fees of 11% Let Only and 17% Fully Managed you have to ask how they could ever justify charging both Landlords AND Tenants £350 + VAT for a contract. Moreover- you have to ask why Landlords, paying the highest fees in the Land, acquiesced to any additional charges. Whilst the financial impact on this legislation will mean a huge revenue lost for Foxtons is anyone sorry? No- in fact those of us who have always taken a fair approach to fees are actually livid because it is the greed of agents like this that has caused this whole situation. Yet, turn your attention to a regional lettings agency getting £400-500 for a let and you have to wonder how on Earth they will survive without additional revenues. At that rate, there are no margins, the profits are miniscule and the additional fees and charges essential in simple financial terms. What I also find odd, however, is how much the various Tenants Rights action groups are hailing this a success. Really? Whilst, yes, in theory (and on the basis that hidden costs do not escalate to offset these charges) you have saved the average Tenant @ £250. Thats it. Is that going to prevent Tenants struggling to make ends meet find security- no. Does it give Tenants the long sought after security of tenancy- no. Does it prevent rent increases (many of which are often more over the year than the fee)-no. Whilst some agents will struggle and some will barely blink (these fees account for around 1.5% of our lettings revenues) the reality is Tenants will think they have won something and they havent. Should I be at all surprised that, once again, the government has looked to legislate an area of our industry with little or no consultation? Yet another, poorly thought out, knee-jerk reaction that creates good press but nothing else of any good really comes from it and the spotlight is once again turned on our industry vilifying us all for being theifs and charlatans ensuing that we will never escape the dreaded '3 most hated professions' (you would have thought, with politicians in the same group, they might want to work together a bit more).

From: Kristjan Byfield 10 December 2016 12:46 PM

Kristjan Byfield

From: Kristjan Byfield 10 October 2016 11:44 AM

Kristjan Byfield

From: Kristjan Byfield 04 May 2016 11:00 AM

Kristjan Byfield

From: Kristjan Byfield 21 March 2016 13:43 PM

Kristjan Byfield
OK so this might be interesting for some people. A quick look on their rightmove 'microsites' reveals 174 Sales lstings of which 30 are U/O and 241 resi lettings of which 37 are L/UO. Even if we base this on their mid-range fee option, this accounts for £11,849.97 of lettings revenue (even if they opt for the top package this equates to just £55,229.17) and if we apply the upfront fee to unsold listings (£395.83) this equates to £68,875 and then if we apply the higher fee (middle one) to the sold units (lets give them the benefit of the doubt so £687.50) this equates to £20,625. Therefore, across all residential business as seen on their site, they have (at best) accumulated a whopping £144,729.17- and thats their gross turnover. But yeah, sure, in 3 years I can easily see the £1Bn mark valuation beckoning. Not to mention what an amazing ROI the EP investors are going to get- especially the ones who bought in though Crowdfunding and paid a premium for a tiny share in the business. What worries me at the moment is that the online agents like PB and EP are making outlandish and utterly unfounded claims on valuatons and are fooling investors in to parting with cash on the wave of hype. In the very near future, these companies will be unable to sustain these claims and will have to asnwer to these investors as the figures dont just fall short but are embarassingly, almost fraudulently, short and we will create a new wave of people who despise agents- once again lumping us all in to the same basket. I fully support the value of online agents and the role they play in the future of our sector but I am not willing to have our industry heaped in more mire just to line the pockets of a few who know exactly what they are doing! I would actually like to see some proper investigative journalism go on here rather than just recycling PR announcements- even if they are spending alot with you guys on advertising.

From: Kristjan Byfield 14 December 2015 13:26 PM

Kristjan Byfield

From: Kristjan Byfield 25 November 2015 14:11 PM

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