We’ve enjoyed a bit of an Indian summer this week. Not sure it makes up for one of the coldest and wettest summers in living memory, but it’s been welcome nonetheless.
Anyway, down to business. Not many weeks go by where we don't see a story about one agency snapping up another. Just last month Countrywide acquired independent letting agency Thomas C Adams and Connells snapped up Kingsford Letting in Leamington Spa. Meanwhile, in July, Strutt & Parker purchased two-office Buckinghamshire agency Roberts Newby.
All of this has got me thinking – when is the right time for an agent to sell their business (if that's the route they are looking to go down)?
Obviously, when it comes to the agency world, it’s all about selling, selling, selling and letting, letting, letting. You want to sell and let as many properties as possible, to make money and improve your agency’s reputation.
If you sell and let well, then people will use you again and again. They’ll recommend you to friends, family and work colleagues. But what happens when you start to think about cashing in on your agency, when your mindset goes from selling properties to the possibility of selling your business?
It’s something you need to start thinking about years in advance, to make sure you’re fully prepared when you do make the decision to sell. Selling your agency can create a useful nest egg, money in the bank that can go towards funding your retirement.
There are a small group of firms in the industry specialising in this area, aiding agents in selling their businesses. One of the most well-known and the one I know best is Adam J Walker & Associates. Adam's firm has over 25 years’ experience of selling estate agency and lettings businesses, so he certainly knows what he’s talking about.
When it comes to selling your agency, it's not as simple as just handing over the keys. The process requires niche marketing, specialist knowledge of the market and a fair bit of legal knowledge, too. You need the right contacts, and it's likely you'll need people to act on your behalf to get the best possible price for your business.
As well as this, the big corporate giants have a massive appetite for buying up agencies. They tend to be extremely acquisitive – as an agency owner, you can take maximum advantage of this fact. If you are thinking of selling up, let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org). If, for example, you have a letting agency that looks after 200 properties, you can expect 1.5 to 2.5x letting book income.
In other news, I attended the RESI Conference at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport this week. Now in its 9th year, the annual conference lures over 1000 delegates for three days of debate, networking and learning.
Alistair Darling and his mighty eyebrows were in attendance. The former Chancellor was one of the event’s Keynote Speakers, along with the current Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Mr Brandon Lewis. The most interesting discussion I attended revolved around Build to Rent, one of the government’s flagship policies to improve the private rented sector (PRS). As we reported in Letting Agent Today yesterday, the government is putting Build to Rent at the heart of its strategy for private accommodation.
This is where big institutions invest big money to build and then rent out blocks of purpose built flats. The accommodation is intended to include things like free broadband for everyone, a free gym, Costa Coffee on site as well as communal areas and gardens. Basically, the proposal is to make the surroundings and living areas as pleasant as possible. This – bright, modern, well-furnished, communal homes – is seen as the future of the PRS.
I also bumped into Rob Ellice from easyProperty at the event. It was nice, as always, to catch up with a key figure in the property industry.
Also this week I was tagged as armed and dangerous (no laughing at the back!) by the MoD, as you can see in the picture below. Fear not, though, I was just there for a meeting with Tenant Shop, an Inchora owned company that offers the most advanced utility management software platform in the lettings industry. They are based at an old MoD facility in Farnborough, Hampshire.
Elsewhere, this man sums up London’s housing crisis in just 10 seconds. Maybe the government should give him a Cabinet position?
And finally, standing as I do at 6ft 6’, I’m not used to people towering over me. But as the below picture shows, I was soundly beaten in this ‘Tall-off’!
*Nat Daniels is the Chief Executive Officer of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today