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By Nat Daniels

CEO, Angels Media


Property Natter - how can agents combat the cost-of-living crisis?

The worst cost-of-living crisis in generations is everywhere we look and agents – and the property industry more widely – are certainly caught up in it too.

There are a number of reasons why the situation is so perilous, certainly not helped by the pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine. But what is in little doubt is that many are feeling the squeeze, and it’s down to government, industries and employees to do their bit to help out where they can.

In the last week alone, we’ve seen Savills warn that property buyers are starting to reduce their budgets and their level of urgency in light of the cost of living crisis, while agents are bracing themselves for the negative impacts of it, according to the latest Goodlord and Vouch State of the Industry survey.


The property industry, despite its buoyancy throughout much the pandemic, is definitely starting to feel the effects of it, even if the sector as a whole remains in relatively rude health.

There seems little doubt that things are going to start to get a little tougher, but agents can prepare and put plans in place to mitigate against this. Here are some possible options. Feel free to agree, disagree, or provide some of your own in the comments!

Make best use of PropTech

At present, increasing productivity and making efficiencies are more important than ever, and PropTech/automation can help you to achieve that by streamlining and freeing up human resource for human resource. In other words, making those long-winded, complex, admin-heavy tasks much easier, and giving your staff more time to focus on what they’re really good at, as well as having more time for training, development and personal growth.

From MovePal – which nurtures leads so you don’t have to – to automated rental payments with PayProp, digital reservation agreements with Gazeal, or Reapit’s latest CRM, there are plenty of fantastic products out there from a range of providers.

As ever, it’s about zoning in on the best of them and then integrating this PropTech effectively, so it almost becomes one of the team. It’s also important that any PropTech products you use complement each other seamlessly.  

Offer employees help

During the pandemic, many agencies were praised for the support and help they provided their employees with, and it’s needed again with the cost-of-living crisis.

If you can afford it – and we all know, of course, that agencies operate under tight margins – it might be worth offering some kind of financial support package or bonus system to help out staff who may be struggling with the day-to-day.

While the media portrayal is that all estate agents are greedy and mega-rich, we all know this is rubbish, and there will be certain staff who will really be suffering at the moment. Stepping in, where you can, could boost morale and keep your team motivated and incentivised.

Go green

With energy bills soaring, including for high street units, office space and homes (where the increasing number of self-employed agents will largely be working), improving your agency’s green credentials could help to keep your bills lower and provide you with a USP.

There are a number of environmental taxes, reliefs and schemes for businesses to enable them to operate in a more eco-friendly way as the UK still appears to be targeting net zero by 2050 – albeit the new government’s position on this remains a little unclear.

I set out in a Natter this time last year what agents can do to improve their green credentials, including little things like moving from paper to digital-based alternatives, going electric if you have a fleet of cars, and switching lights to more energy-efficient options.

Sometimes the small steps can pay in the long-run.

Focus on growth

The best way to cope with an external crisis is, of course, to grow your business further – as long as this is done sustainably and in a stable, pragmatic manner.

With the market slowing and new instructions potentially harder to come by, making use of the leads/data you already have in your system seems to me to make perfect sense.

One way of thinking about it is like a farmer and his/her crops in a tough year, where – rather than trying to grow new ones – he/she focuses on, nurtures and protects what they already have.

Lead generation is vitally important at the best of times, but it becomes ten times as important when times get a little tougher.


A housing minister with housing experience?

I know, I know, I can’t believe it either! But Lee Rowley, MP for North East Derbyshire and someone who had been vocal in calling for Boris to go, was officially named as the new housing minister this week following the delay to ministerial appointments caused by the death of the Queen.

And, unbelievably, Rowley – who has been an MP since 2017 – once worked as an estate agent. Those of us in the property community will hope that this experience will make him more open to hearing the concerns and frustrations of the estate agency industry.

He certainly won’t have to do much to be less invisible than his two immediate predecessors – Stuart Andrew and Marcus Jones – who were both in the role for a matter of months and seemed determined to remain anonymous during that time.

Simon Clarke, the recently appointed Housing Secretary, tweeted: “Lee is a huge intellect, a great friend and is keenly committed to building the homes we need.”

Housing ministers have been got through at a rate of knots in recent years, more than one a year for quite some time, so I think we’re all just hoping for some stability and consistency in the role. But that could be a fanciful hope given what has come before.

Anyway, that’s all from me.

Until next time…

*Nat Daniels is CEO of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today. Follow him on Twitter @NatDaniels.


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