Yopa – launched in 2015 as part of the new breed of hybrid operators seeking to shake up the industry – was founded by Daniel Attia, David Jacobs, and Alistair and Andrew Barclay, and has perhaps been best known in recent years for its Village People-inspired and ‘Seriously, why not?’ TV ad campaigns.
It has received significant investment from Savills, LSL and the venture capital arm of the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), most recently unveiling a new funding round worth £16 million and naming industry veteran Grenville Turner as its chairman.
Like rival Purpblebricks, it has no fixed offices or hubs, but relies instead on local Yopa estate agents and territory owners who work on a regional basis.
Here in what I am told is my 100th Property Natter, I catch up with Megan Russell, Territory Owner of Yopa’s North West team, to find out what her typical day looks like.
Take it away, Megan…
As a Territory Owner at Yopa I manage all the listings in my area, which covers the towns of Knutsford and Northwich in leafy Cheshire. Life at Yopa is an absolute whirlwind but the best career choice I have ever made. Every day is completely different from the one before, which is why I love the job so much!
As I said, there’s no typical day but, for the most part, it generally follows the below structure…
I tend to wake up around 7:30am, when I take a look at my diary and begin preparing for the day. After coffee, coffee and more coffee I take the dogs out for their morning walk. I have three: a Yorkshire Terrier, a Havanese and a French Bulldog.
At 8:30am I start the work day, all from the comfort of my own home. I catch up with my team over the phone. There are two Territory Managers in my area - Danielle and Felicity. We discuss what we have on that day and work out whether there is anything we can do to assist one another.
After the catch-up call I enjoy a stroll to my first appointment of the day. My first appointment normally starts around 9.30am and could either be a viewing, valuation or an instruction; it really just depends on which clients I have in that day. The beauty of this job role is that I can structure my diary to suit my clients and work around their busy schedules.
My next appointment slot will normally be around 1pm. I am usually running ahead of schedule and use the time to book in viewings and valuations for the week ahead, touch base with clients to inform them how the marketing of their property is going or follow up with solicitors and conveyancers to ensure each of my customers experiences a smooth move.
Much of my time is spent liaising with my clients and the solicitors involved in the sale to make sure it completes within a reasonable timeframe that suits the vendor.
I have a lot of clients who own local companies, so I try and stop in where possible to catch up and see how their days are going. It also helps to build my presence in the local area, seeing as I don’t have a high street office. I prefer it this way as it means I get to spend time out and about and really get to know the nuances of the towns and their key features. I've worked in the local property industry for almost a decade, so I know the area pretty well already, but there’s always more you can learn and new roads to discover!
One of my clients owns a local café right in the centre of my patch. They do the best Greek chicken wraps, so I like to pop in there for lunch! Whilst enjoying my wrap, I will look through my emails and catch up on any daily tasks.
These could be anything, ranging from viewing feedback calls, sales progression, offer negotiations, booking viewings or listing a property - all the typical things you’d do as a high street agent!
I normally have around three or four valuations a day and five viewings on average. A valuation could easily take between one and two hours whereas viewing appointments are around 30 minutes. The property market in Cheshire is really strong at the moment, with lots of demand from buyers. The properties in Knutsford in particular are achieving the asking price or above really quickly, sometimes in the space of a couple of weeks.
Being a LYA (Local Yopa Agent), as we call it here, isn’t just about being about being a good agent - it’s also about growing a successful business. My afternoons are used planning how to grow market share and which new areas target. It also may involve meeting with my accountant to get all the financial admin in order.
The busiest part of the day is between 5pm and 7pm, when most of my appointments occur. The majority of people work a 9-5 job, so it’s important that I’m able to be flexible to suit their schedules.
Evening viewings are very popular. Most of my evenings are completely full with viewing appointments and the odd valuation. As LYAs we are available 24/7 for our clients - I’ve been known to do a valuation at 9pm as that was the only time the vendor could do.
It’s important that we’re available when our clients need us, as many vendors choose to instruct Yopa because the office opening hours of their high street agent didn’t suit their schedules.
I normally get home at around 8pm, when I’ll cook dinner for myself and my partner and we catch up with some of our favourite TV boxsets, such as Suits.
Then it’s off to bed for around 11pm, ready for another busy day tomorrow!
Great answers – thanks, Megan.
On a separate note, with a Brexit deal now agreed (but far from over the line), I thought it would be fun to have a look at how much the now dreaded B-word has dominated our news schedule in the last three or so years.
On Estate Agent Today alone, there have been 830 mentions of Brexit since January 2016, while across our sites there have been a total of 1,733 mentions of the word which now consumes our lives in the same timeframe.
With plenty of wrangling and to-ing and fro-ing still to come, strap yourself in for plenty more Brexit-based stories over the coming years!
Thanks for sticking with me through the first 100 Property Natters!
Until next time…
*Nat Daniels is the Chief Executive Officer of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today. Follow him on Twitter @NatDaniels.