We have been speaking with many agents over the past months and the story appears the same with them all. There is a serious lack of stock and agents are having trouble finding enough opportunities to sustain the sales pipelines.
Admittedly the industry has experienced a peculiar year in terms of seasonal fluctuations in demand, skewed by the SLDT relief periods, which has led to a lull in new instructions at the back end of the year, which is not uncommon.
The industry needs to take a breath and review its strategy for the coming months and look forward to a rewarding year ahead. Demand is still high, interest rates have not yet increased, although that is likely to be on the cards at some point next year, and many people still harbour a desire to make a move. But what can you do to engage with them and identify your prospects?
Agents are creatures of habit and fall into repeated behaviours to try and win new business. It’s all been about getting enough valuation appointments in the diary and letting the market know that you are the agent to talk to, given your successful year. There will be flyers going through letterboxes showing just how many sales have been achieved in a particular street or postcode area, more adverts in the local property pages showing more sold property than available stock with a message asking for valuations from those considering a move and so on. There is little wrong with these efforts, but they are far from unique and are far from delivering anything to your marketplace that has any true value.
It has been evidenced throughout this past year that most home movers do not keep themselves organised when it comes to their property assets unless they are an investor perhaps. It is fair to say that the everyday home-owner occupier does not really give the organisation of important paperwork a second thought day today.
Even you, the reader of this article, may not be able to put your hands on your FENSA certificates, Title Documents, EPC, Buildmark Certificates, Certificates for Building Regulations or Electrical Installations or your annual mortgage statements. What about this year’s buildings and contents insurance paperwork, or knowing exactly when it is up for renewal?
Helping your marketplace to get better organised is a powerful consideration. It is a completely different conversation to have with prospective clients, as it is not asking about whether they are looking to sell, but about how you can help them to improve their moving experience whenever that may be in a few months or a few years. Agents are traditionally very poor at playing a longer marketing strategy as most activities are about immediate returns for the efforts made. A tangible return on leaflets dropped for instance.
The trouble is, when you drop a load of leaflets or advertise asking to engage with people who are looking to move now, those are the only people that will ever respond if you are lucky. It can be soul-destroying some days or some weeks to not see the levels of new engagement that you would wish for, isn’t it?
This is why we believe that letting your marketplace know that you are giving them the opportunity to claim a free dynamic digital logbook, without any pressure or discussion about selling today, can be a refreshing change for your region and your staff. By marketing the fact that you are giving homeowners the opportunity to claim an engaging piece of technology that will help them to get their property assets better organised, set them reminders of important tasks and give them an indication of price fluctuations in their area for their property type every time they log in to it, will enable your business to engage with far more people. The Logbook contains your branding, inextricably linking your business to every homeowner that has a Logbook.
Upfront information is key to reducing client stress, improving pipeline turnover and reducing fall-throughs and yet it is often misunderstood as being something that takes significant effort or cost, which it doesn’t. Most upfront information is obtained simply by a seller being better organised and having information available to be shared with an estate agent or conveyancer at the point of need.
Being organised is something that a homeowner can do with the adoption of a tool that helps them to achieve it. The best part is, they can become better organised well in advance of even considering moving home. After all, everyone knows where their car's V5, MOT certificate and Service history is so why not do the same for a property?
The adoption and delivery of a Logbook is a progressive way of thinking and one that we believe holds merit and significant long term value for an Estate Agency business. If you have not seen or claimed a Logbook for your own home to better understand what you could be empowering your marketplace with, get in touch.
*Daniel Hamilton-Charlton is the Director of Property Searches Direct