It’s a big ask to expect anyone to suddenly change what they have always done, particularly if their results have proven to be of great benefit to the business. The trouble is the market is changing. Within the working environment that vendors are going to enter, they will experience stress and delays, that, in the main, can be avoided.
Support systems and services have been developed across the sector and upfront data has become a bit of a buzzword, so ignore it at your peril. It hasn’t been discussed simply to create noise, it has been evidenced as a genuine solution to a real-life problem.
Some agents have adhered to the status quo and continued to scream at conveyancers to “do better”, “work harder”, without taking a step back to see what ‘they’ could have done to prevent, or at least ease the situation ahead of it becoming a problem. Others, that I have had the good fortune to have met with over the past few months, have realised that the direction of travel for their business and the future ease of movement for their clients is very much in their control and have been asking for support.
It is important that if you want your clients to experience ‘better’, you must drive change and deliver something different to the agent next door. The only way that can be achieved is by presenting different solutions to the problem of moving. I don’t mean slick floor plans or virtual tours or the use of quadcopters for aerial shots, I mean a clear focus on the end game. Getting to the point at which you are handing over the keys to the buyer, who, let’s not forget, will be your future vendor if everyone has had a positive experience.
The answer is knowledge and understanding of the processes of moving home. A little understanding of the conveyancing process, what administrative tasks delay a file getting up and running quickly and how to get a contract out as soon as the buyer's conveyancer has confirmed instructions to act.
Upfront data. What does that actually mean?
Well, it means getting all of the information to a conveyancer acting for a vendor so as to enable them to have all that they need to get a contract out.
How can that happen during marketing?
Provide your clients with direct access to things that they might not otherwise get hold of until they have instructed a conveyancer. They will need a Property Information Form and a Fixtures and Content form in the first instance. These forms can take someone days to complete because they require a vendor to source complementary paperwork to support their completion. Putting their hands on FENSA Certificates, completion certifications, insurances, details of electrical installations, planning, building regs data and so on. These are the things that can take time and yet are invariably left to the point at which a sale has been agreed. Which is far too late.
Why not just instruct a conveyancer sooner?
It has been proven that conveyancers are carrying massive pipelines and, it is fair to say that agents want conveyancers to focus on getting exchanges. To ask a conveyancer to distract themselves from live files and dedicate any time and resources on files that are not SSTC is going to cause delays unless they have team members lolling about with not much to do; which I doubt.
How do you even begin to persuade a vendor to complete their paperwork and get things moving sooner? Unless you have forgotten all your basic training you should all remember how to use Feel, Felt, Found. But, if you have explained what has been happening over the past year or so, discussed the fact that conveyancing capacity is stretched and that you as an agent have the keys to success along with a great working relationship with a regional, or even local conveyancer, they will understand the ‘why’.
It is important that as an Agent you have the ability to win the business that you want, as well as get to work with clients that are expressing a desire to make a move for genuine reasons. No one wants a pipeline full of ‘let us just see how it goes’ clients. The give it a go client is a fallthrough in the making and an expense that no business needs to carry. It is expensive monetarily as well as being a drain on resourcing that could otherwise deliver positive results.
So, stress test the situation. Require clients to get better prepared. Provide them with access to protocol forms, perhaps even ask ‘them’ to engage with an ID/AML solution rather than have your time taken up, and see how committed they are. Remember that they have big expectations of you. They expect you to start spending money as soon as they come to the market, your time, your fuel, your portals, your paperwork, your staff, your phones, your boards, your website and so on. So it is only fair that you ask them to do something that will massively help in the long run.
Of course, there is much more that you can ask them to do to save 6-8 weeks on the transaction time and my team will be very happy to discuss those free solutions with you.
The point is, whether you believe it or not, the property landscape has changed and you have the choice to remain part of the problem or to start delivering the solutions to enable clients to move faster, with less stress and greater understanding.
*Daniel Hamilton-Charlton is Director of Property Searches Direct