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Data is a conversation starter (really!)

Rather like doctors, estate agents are present at critical points in our lives – moving in together, bidding farewell to a family home, committing to a major investment.

People might well be nervous, undecided, conflicted at times like these. No wonder the sector puts so much emphasis on interpersonal skills.

At its heart, estate agency will always be a people business. Data, on the other hand is cold and hard and clinical. How, then, does data analytics fit into the estate agents’ service toolkit?  

Addressing a room of agents recently, Australian trainer Josh Phegan pointed out: “Your purpose is to help people make decisions”.

What better way to support sound decision-making, than with a well-informed, relevant and readable analysis of the local housing market?

A crisp, professional report on property and economic trends can really take the emotion out of a conversation about pricing. Never mind what they’ve read about the national housing shortage, what are market conditions in this locality, how often do properties change hands and what are the popular price points?

Data is a conversation starter (really!)

Property Academy’s Peter Knight put it like this: [an agent needs to be] “an expert guide that will help me when I most need help, who can make sense of the mountains of information and distil it to highly relevant insights.”

Well-presented data can help an agent to improve performance at almost every step of the customer journey: lead generation and conversion; customer engagement, valuation and marketing - as well as underpinning business strategies in new and existing office locations.

Data is a conversation starter (really!)

Staying in touch with homeowners, even when they are not planning a move, is essential but it means finding an endless stream of conversation-openers. engagement:

• Email campaigns are more likely to be opened and read if they incorporate a unique nugget of local insight for the postcode.

• A local area webpage keeps viewers on your website for longer.

• A branded local market report can give an agent the edge over a competitor.

• A topical blog on, say, Help to Buy, or connectivity, improves SEO and can be posted or shared on a LinkedIn page.

• Colourful, topical infographics make great tweets.

• And if you’ve ever struggled to fill a newsletter, why not devote a section to local stats?

With the right support, all of these things are very simple to automate – saving you time and cost.

Data is a conversation starter (really!)

As Clive Humby said ‘Data is the new oil. It’s valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used.’ Working with data can be complex. The key is to make it simple and clear, refined it in a way that can be easily interpreted.

Back to the doctor analogy. When people come to an agent for advice, they have already been on the web and accessed a bewildering array of data and opinion, and quite often terrified themselves with their self-diagnosed local market condition.

They really need an expert to help them make sense of all the information out there, for reassurance and to be alongside them when deciding what steps to take next.

*Sandra Jones is Managing Director of Dataloft, a data-driven property research consultancy specialising in the residential sector. Dataloft Inform is its online analytics tool. 

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