I recently saw a fly-through video for a home on sale for well over £2m.
The imagery was good (made better by the spectacular house) but the voiceover was dreary and badly written: for seven different parts of the property the script said “this room benefits from…”. Unsurprisingly, that fly-through was made by an agent who failed to sell the property, even in today’s soaring housing market, and has now been dis-instructed.
It was appropriate that I spotted the fly-through just a few days ago because it ties in nicely with a new and slim volume from former lettings agency owner Neil Whitfield.
‘The Ultimate Property Listing’ is brief, clear and advice-laden. There’s only one problem - can Neil convince agents they need to improve their property listings to begin with?
It’s undoubtedly the case that many agents hand aspects of their work over to ‘experts’ - their PropTech may be selected, or at least heavily advised, by a portal or a supplier; their books are handled by an accountant; their anti-money laundering activities are the subject of a compliance expert; and their recruitment left in the safe hands of a specialist agency.
Yet when it comes to listings - describing a property in 250 characters for a short entry on a portal, for instance - I’d venture to suggest that almost every agent regards themselves as expert. It’s the same with photographs: after all, if the picture of the family’s new kitten looks great on Instagram, how hard can it be to take a pic of a house with an iPhone?
Well, Whitfield’s book does NOT suggest you have outsource your property writing to an expert (although he makes a pitch for your business towards the end) but it does offer practical down-to-earth easily-understood advice on how to make a property listing sing and dance, rather than limp on the page.
If you’re already thinking that you’ve got this skill off to a fine art already because you’ve performed strongly in the current bull market, then think again.
Whitfield has a persuasive statistic towards the end of the book. He says Rightmove suggests there’s a 40 per cent chance only that the first-instructed agent will sell a property. Which means, of course, that 60 per cent of the agent’s work is likely to produce no sale and therefore no return - the work will have been, effectively, for free.
But if improved listings would help the average agent sell 60 or 70 per cent of the properties first instructed on, instead of 40, then their revenue increases considerably for absolutely no additional work.
And by improved listings Whitfield means more dynamic content, better and more appropriate photography, and insider tips like digitally dressing an empty room to improve its appearance on a portal.
Much of the book is common sense, at least for those in the industry, and undoubtedly many agents would be sympathetic to his expert advice: for just a few pounds, the book seems a wise investment even if you learn just a handful of tips on improving editorial content or the quality of photography.
Of course there’s a sale going on here: Whitfield ends up encouraging you to buy his firm’s editorial services. But you can, if you wish, ignore his ad and before you get to it, you’ll find plenty of insider ideas on improving your property listings.
That is, unless you really think your listings are perfect already…
*The Ultimate Property Listing: Create Powerful Estate & Letting Agency Listings To Grow Your Profits, by Neil Whitfield, Amazon £3.99 (Kindle) or £7.99 (paperback)
*Editor of Estate Agent Today, Letting Agent Today and Landlord Today, Graham can be found tweeting about all things property at @PropertyJourn