The new market breeds a better agent

The new dynamic of the UK property market is testing estate agents to prove their value.

Many properties are taking nearly twice as long to get a result interest than identical offerings a year ago and many agents who for so long survived on the coattails of a rising market and under supply of housing are feeling the pinch to adapt or face oblivion. 

Speaking to agents daily, the mood is one that many have never experienced. 

For a generation, agents (and their clients) have enjoyed a market where, even with a blip here or there, has come with an accepted  “it doubles every seven years” mentality.

Stories of paying over the asking price where common and parents would advise their children to “just buy the thing”.

Now, with a market as challenging as many have seen, the onus to deliver results rests with skilled estate agents more than ever.

If you’re bemoaning a bad market, please stop. Markets shouldn’t be pigeonholed as good or bad, but acknowledged for their unique characteristics.

As the market tests agents, the key is to stay firm to the basics (notice I didn’t say “get back to” because a great agent never leaves them behind. Not just prospecting, but servicing your database. That means looking beyond the short-termism of a Rightmove lead and working (with) your database of potential sellers and buyers more than ever.

In fiery markets where the heat does the hard work, agents often end up neglecting the people they already know but maybe aren’t ready to transact yet. It’s been that way for so long that this type of agency has become the norm - and therein lies the opportunity.

If those basics have been neglected in recent years, these agents will fail to deliver for their sellers now. But agents who maintain strong buyer (and database) practices through fast markets are perfectly positioned to maintain momentum in slower times.

Agents must leverage time and questioning to forge strong relationships with their buyers so they know with certaining when they’re at the point of ready-to-offer when the right home comes along. Even in a softer market, there will always be buyers determined to find a home and willing to pay the right price when the right one comes along. Vendors want agents to bring the buyers to their property that passive websites can’t provide.

These buyers aren’t the ones you find from a cold portal enquiry.

It’s important to remember that expectations of sellers and buyers are also on different trajectories. Sellers are thinking about achieving a sale price based on a result from six months ago. And buyers are concerned with their future. 

Successful agents have empathy for both parties, and communicate the feelings of one party to the other so that if nothing else, a buyer and a seller can relate to each other on an emotional level. Once you have this level of understanding, it’s very seldom an us-vs-them scenario when putting a deal together.

When it comes to selling, the idea that there will be 10 buyers banging down the door and the price will determine itself no longer exists. But your clients, those selling now and those just wanting an update, still want to know what homes are worth, and why.

If you can’t accurately price properties and read the market, you risk widening the gap between buyer and seller expectations. The idea that you should “buy the listing” should be eliminated from an agents mind today. No exceptions. Over-the-top estimates will see plenty of agents caught out, further away from a successful result for sellers and will only serve to worsen their reputation in the eyes of buyers in their market.

Meanwhile, the practice of posting a property on a portal, guessing the asking price and hoping mass enquiry will lead to a quick sale is all but dead, too. 

Rather than merely facilitating this tired process, modern agents must assist and direct buyers as part of delivering for sellers.

Empowered and informed buyers have the ability to make informed decisions on the spot. When the uncertainty is removed, buyers often recognise value and opportunity and the chance to buy the right home for the right price. 

Managing these situations and maintaining composure in this market is crucial. Your offering needs to be sharper for both buyers and sellers. Polishing your craft requires repetition without questioning the basics. 

As the new market becomes the norm, agents can seize the chance to put themselves truly at the centre of their markets again. The common practices of the last 20 years have robbed many agents of this ability, and those who are most in tune with their corner of the market have a huge opportunity to assist disheartened clients on either side.

Bringing it all together...

Buyers are harder to find and sellers are tougher to please, but composure and focus will lead to success.

The market is never bad, but this market requires more skill and better execution.