Our 2020 predictions.

Here goes nothing…

We did this last year and our thoughts were largely well received. Not so much because we were ‘right’ but mainly because we took a view outside the regular versions of these articles and took the focus away from ‘the market’ and kept it largely on what estate agents could themselves control.

This year we’re going to do a mix of both. We’ve learnt a lot from you guys this year about what’s working (or maybe that should read, who’s working) and what you are expecting for the year ahead.

We’ve outlined some of the best thoughts below and highlighted whether they’re from You or Us as well.

So what’s going to happen in 2020?

The Brexit/Boris Bounce... or maybe not (You vs Us.) 

First off, we might have to agree to disagree. Or maybe that needs to read agree to agree to see what happens while working our arses off regardless.

For all the tormenting stagnation of the past three years, but even more so the past 12 months, some commentators both in the media and those we’ve spoken to seem to think now Brexit looks like it’s “getting done”, the market will boost back up again as if it was a car with a flat battery that’s just got a jump start.

Now, we’re not saying confidence won’t return. We think it will to a degree. But the “Brexit Bounce”, as we’ve heard it being called, will only be a reality for you if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves before the summer weather arrives and make the most of the opportunity. 

Certainty is a conversation starter. It’s an instruction getter and an offer generator. BUT it does none of these things on it’s own. You still need to do the work.

Will the market recover in 2020? Not entirely, and not quickly. But there’s going to be more opportunity. You just need to farm it.

This brings us neatly to our next prediction...

Your database is everything (You)

“Database or die, Sam!” were some of the first words I heard in real estate. That was back in 2010 and on the other side of the world, but a decade later, in a post-EU, Brexit, Bojo-run UK, they are more true now than ever.

One of the most encouraging aspects of this year has been seeing Agents evolve from portal lead reliance through to experienced (and excited) prospectors, farming their database, nurturing leads and keeping their potential clients at the center of everything they do.

We have seen a real mindset shift in a huge number of agents we’ve been working with (some less-so too) and while we do agree there’ll be less agents operating by the end of 2020, the ones left will be doing better than they’ve ever done and providing a service and experience to their community that will future-proof their business.

Expired instructions. Focus on them as buyers (Us) 

People who’ve tried to sell but haven’t been successful will always be a wonderful lead source. They're just about as low hanging fruit as you can get.

What’s surprising to us is that so many agents go straight back in for the kill (instruction) soon after these people have just had their hearts broken (come off the market).

Our advice (and subsequent prediction) is that the great agents will start these relationships up from a point of aspiration rather than a point of desperation.

By focusing on where these people want to go, rather than what they’ve failed to achieve, the relationship will begin on the better foot and you’ll be able to show your care, attention and service before you ask for the business. 

More off-market deals (Us)

You’re going to see an explosion of pre-portal and off-market transactions in 2020. 

An agent with a strong database and a strong personal network is the agent to watch in the future. The best agents connect the right sellers with the right buyers, and with countless tools out there to improve access to information (wink) and streamline communication and the processes around moving, agents will become less and less reliant on the portals to get deals done.

Think of it as old-school practice with new-school tools.

Property management and sales will work much closer together (Us)

We wrestled with merging this point and the one below as they meld nicely together, but they’re separate enough that we want to give them each a paragraph.

Once an agency reaches a certain size, sales and property management seem to split and never really get back together.

That’s all going to change in 2020. 

Estate agents are expected to do it all. Your clients will want to know what their portfolio is worth, for both sales and lettings, at any one time and the only way to do this (while making sure you’re putting on a united front to your clients) is to actually unite. 

PMs will almost ‘refer’ their sales staff to their landlords, and sales people will make sure they’re passing the warmest leads possible through to their PM team.

You might be reading this thinking “we do that already” but we can almost guarantee you that there’s 50% more business to be done if you actively make lead sharing and cooperation amongst your departments top of mind almost daily.

Great agents will be client obsessed rather than instruction hungry (You and us)

Working so closely together as we mentioned above means that you’re putting your client above everything else.

Your job is to be there before, during and after your clients need you. Clients for life means clients for life. It doesn’t mean, clients for the 21-week-instruction-window we’ve tricked them into signing.

It’s started already, but in 2020 you’ll see the gap between client-centric agents and transaction-centric agents get wider and wider.

One side will have higher stock levels, higher staff retention, higher fees, higher referrals and higher revenue, while the other will be the exact opposite.

We’ll let you figure out which is which. 

Large agencies will lose much of their competitive advantage (You)

For all the talk in the industry, press comment sections about franchise failures, PLC’s closing branches and people leaving the industry - we’ve seen a swathe of cold-start agencies open up in 2019 and believe it’ll continue into 2020 and beyond.

Most of these young businesses have been started by proactive agents who’ve been working for established brands and have realised that perhaps the tools they’re given in-house can be found on their own as well. 

Big companies won’t go away, but they will need to rethink the “our brand makes you money” strategy in the wake of smaller, smarter and more agile agencies popping up with (as we mentioned above) a huge focus on the client.

Fees will go up (Us)

The one we’ve all been waiting for.

2019 saw this beginning. 2020 will see it solidify.

A race to the bottom on fees serves literally no one. Agents can’t offer the service they want (or need) to give and the end-punter ends up with the poor experience for it.

A quote I love is, “what’s cheap is often more expensive” and this holds more true in estate agency than many other businesses or industries. 

Great agents in 2020 will make a choice for themselves and a choice for their clients, and it will be to raise their service and to raise their fees to match. One doesn’t come without the other, it’s important we remember that.

Like the shampoo ads say, “it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”. We prefer, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen over time.

Our industry is becoming more professional, it’s full of wonderful people, giving wonderful service and results to people in desperate need every single day. Those stories will start to shine through more and more (we will play our part in making this happen) and in turn, we’ll all be paid for the level of job we’re doing.

Bringing it all together…

A new year always brings renewed optimism and hope for the 365 days ahead.

We’d urge you, regardless of whether you agree or not with the predictions above, to take stock of 2019, learn from it what you can and make a choice about the estate agent YOU want to be in 2020 and beyond.

What happens in the rest of the world, and what happens in the rest of the UK doesn’t have as big of an effect on your market as you may think. 

If you want to change your business in 2020, then YOU must change your business in 2020. 

If nothing else, remember that there is no silver bullet. It comes down to you and it comes down to doing the work. That’s one prediction we know we’ll get right.