As circus performers, most estate agents would fail.
Some of you might find that difficult to comprehend. After all, many uninformed members of the public view us as a bunch of clowns who don’t deserve our money.
But our real skill is invisible juggling, and there’s nothing very entertaining about that. It’s not possible to see what’s going on until the whole thing is finished when, hopefully, those who have been involved in the process will be impressed by what’s achieved.
I’m glad to say that juggling skills displayed by the team at my Fine and Country Southern Hampshire and Town and Country Southern estate agencies have not gone unnoticed by our clients, who are frequently ready to heap praise on my staff for the way they persevere to draw everything together.
When reading client comments, it becomes patently obvious that both buyers and sellers come to recognise just how much work goes on behind the scenes – that invisible juggling I mentioned – to ensure a deal goes through.
People like to think that traditional high street estate agency is a dying business and that everything can be done by searching online and using an online agency that will list your property for sale and then add a whole host of chargeable extras to bring you something approaching the level of service a traditional agent offers.
Sadly, in my experience that doesn’t happen. Vendors take the cheapest option they can and the only reason many of their sales succeed is because the high street agents involved in other parts of the transaction chain pick up the online agent’s ball and juggle it along with their own.
It’s an action I take regularly. If my part of the chain concludes successfully, I’ll do whatever it takes to keep everything else in the air as well.
It was interesting at the recent Negotiator Conference to hear all the talk about online, hybrid, and traditional estate agents as if the hybrid agency was some sort of new-fangled idea dreamed up by traditional estate agents caught out by the rise of organisations such as Purplebricks.
It's imagined that to escape the purple rain of new for sale boards, we’ll follow like lambs to the slaughter as we desperately try to keep up with EweMove and the previously mentioned purveyor of painted bricks.
But the truth is that in this world there are only complete and incomplete estate agents. Complete agents are traditional high street businesses that long ago adopted portals as a point of access to their business.
Incomplete agencies are those with an online-only presence who want money for a limited service, normally upfront, and charge for a range of bolt-ons to try to get them somewhere near the offering of complete agents.
We should be challenging the public perception of these agents as value for money. Maybe some of us should even develop juggling skills and stand in our local shopping precincts demonstrating how we do our job.
If anyone can give a lesson in multi-ball juggling, get in touch. Perhaps it could even become part of NAEA / ARLA CPD requirements!
*Colin Shairp is Director of Fine and Country Southern Hampshire