The worst of the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be firmly in the rear-view mirror as we move into the last quarter of 2021. Still, for many businesses, particularly estate agents, the uphill climb may have only just begun.
We have seen the headlines. In the first half of 2021, estate agents enjoyed a boom, with buyers keen to take advantage of the Stamp Duty holiday in the first quarter, which meant added pressure on agents to get completions finalised in time. House prices rose steeply, seeing an increase of 13.4% in June (The Guardian), and mortgage approvals hit a 13-year high. All of which resulted in a staggering 175% increase in house moves earlier this year (Zoopla).
The UK became everyone’s market, with buyers choosing space and work-life balance, with the need for easy commuting no longer a significant factor in purchase decision making.
For estate and letting agents alike the next few months will be crucial, especially where predicted housing demands will fall. However, there are a few ways in which Estate Agents can keep performing in this changing landscape.
Getting information across quickly and accurately can sometimes make or break a professional relationship, especially where the biggest complaint of estate agents is a lack of communication. If agents improve their means of communication, it can lead to better productivity and efficiency overall. In today's fluid workplace, traditional enterprise phone systems are no longer fit for purpose.
Telecoms in the property sector keep the phone system in the office separate from the mobile phone out in the field. This doesn’t have to be the case anymore. Phone systems have rapidly advanced to the point that a mobile app on an agent's personal mobile has the same functionality as a desk phone and uses the cellular network to make calls, guaranteeing high call quality anywhere. It means that agents will have the full suite of desk phone features with them wherever their viewing is, increasing sales efficiency, reachability of the third parties, and generally improving communication with potential buyers and sellers while they are in the field.
For example, agents and sales teams visiting properties and clients or working remotely should be able to access and make full use of their organisation's key business phone features – including call recording, conference calling, corporate voicemail, IVR, ring groups, call monitoring, and call logging – on their mobile phone, without any extra hardware, investment in separate business mobile devices or a complicated set-up process.
Opportunities for growth with developers
One key avenue for business growth available to estate agents during these turbulent months is developing relationships in the new build sector. Land and site developers can offer multi-layered sales opportunities as additional income pathways meaning agents can nurture new business through clients, buyers, and landlords.
Money may be difficult to collect due to post-pandemic economic uncertainty and furlough coming to an end. Some letting agents may feel the need to scale down further to ease budget constraints and channel resources. Customer care will be the secret to survival for most letting agents as a part of their long-term strategic planning process. What is apparent now is that landlords are keen to work with agencies whose prime objective is safety first.
Avoid signing long term contracts for business services
The pandemic taught us that fixed contracts where there is a lack of fluidity and flexibility are simply not practical anymore. Businesses need to be forever prepared for change and adapt quickly to fluctuations in both economic and market behaviour. Tying your business down to a three-year contract for business services or software, especially phone systems, is no longer viable as they may not be fit for purpose after a year.
For estate agencies who want to stay ahead of the curve and make good use of the lower levels of clients towards the end of Q4, there are many avenues for growth to take advantage of, and perhaps the most important is mobile communications.
*Simon Hochhauser is Founder, and CEO of PiPCall