If you’ve called in to Homesearch, sent us an email, done any training or demos, then you’ve more than likely have spoken to me. I’m the Canadian guy who most assume is American (no offence taken). I thought I could take this opportunity to talk about the similarities and differences I have seen with the Estate Agent industry between Canada and the United Kingdom.
For starters, the terminology. When I first joined the HS team, I was constantly Googling UK property terms. Trying to understand what they meant.
The most blatant term would have to be “Estate Agent” or “Letting Agent". When I first moved to the UK a year ago, I never heard the terms before. I’m sure most of you know the blanket term in North America is real estate agent/realtors.
It took some time to embed that into my brain and was helped by receiving a not so great reaction when I called an “estate agent” and “real estate agent” (whoops).
I will not be doing that again.
Some other terms that took a little getting used to was ‘Flat’ instead of ‘apartment’, ‘terraced house’ is a ‘townhouse’ and ‘purpose-built flats’ are ‘condos’.
There are 100's more but for my first blog I’ll try not to bore you to death with basic terminology.
Another difference that I noticed when I first started working for Homesearch, was that you did not need a license to practice in the UK (although I’m aware that might change). From speaking to my friends in Canada who are Real estate agents, they said getting a license costs upwards of $6000 CAD (around £4000 GBP).
But does that mean they’re better agents?
I would say no. Getting a license or credentials might make you look better on the surface but what always sticks out is how much you put into your craft, your attention to details, and customer experience you provide for your clients.
Which leads to my last point.
Customer Experience > Everything
The one major similarity I’ve seen between estate agents in the United Kingdom and Canada (Toronto more specifically) is that the customer service/experience makes all the difference.
I’ve only had one instance where I needed a real estate agent in Toronto and two instances where I needed an estate/letting agent in London.
The circumstances were similar. The experiences were different.
I needed a 1-bedroom apartment (flat) for me, my girlfriend and our dog to live in.
The agent in Toronto we were referred to by a friend. They met with us many times, brought us to 10+ places to view, gave us helpful advice along the way, answered all our emails, calls, and texts promptly. They also explained to me what was realistic and what wasn’t based on what we wanted.
We ended up finding a place on our own, but I have referred this agent to many friends since them due to how accommodating and helpful they were.
The agent in London (who will remain nameless) met with us once, listened to what we wanted, but then completely ghosted (millennial term?) us.
We sent emails asking if they had any potential properties and heard nothing back. It put a sour taste in our mouth from this experience to say the least. I would have appreciated a simple "I can't help you, but I know someone who can" or something along those lines instead of being left in the dark.
Safe to say we won’t not be passing their details along.
*I should also mention that the Letting agent we had after the not-so-great experience was extremely helpful and walked us through the necessary steps and reassured us that everything was on track to get our desired flat* A+ experience.
At the end of the day it’s all about the positive experience you provide for your client. It doesn't matter if the terms are different or if you have a real estate license. We all just want to be treated as a human and cared for. Not feel like another number.
People trust other people and the experiences they have with a business.
Word of mouth is going to bring you more prospects, referrals, and clients than your Facebook posts ever will.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in the UK, Canada, Australia, USA, or Slovakia. If you have a great experience you’re more than likely to tell everyone and anyone.