Our top 5 estate agency predictions for 2019
We're lining ourselves up for some industry ridicule here but hey, that's half the fun of it.
The is the first of what we hope will become a yearly discussion around what the next 12 months holds for estate agents and the UK property industry at large.
We've tried to keep these predictions as realistic as possible and completely based off the interactions we've had with those in the market over the past few months.
The purpose is to help prepare businesses for the year ahead (and beyond) by discussing the trends we think that will most impact our industry.
Most economic indicators show a less-than-favourable outlook for at least the first half of 2019. Given the perceived climate of uncertainty (we hate this phrase but it seems to have cemented itself in the national psyche) due to the upcoming will it, or won't it, Brexit deadline, as well as weakening property and financial markets here in the UK and worldwide, there's a thought that the pins will either fall completely one way or the other.
If the last days in March go well (which is a subjective term, depending on what a 'good' Brexit means to you), the market will reset and restart almost immediately. On the other hand, if the first few days of Spring go poorly, we may all need to batten down the hatches for a long, continued winter ahead.
Our predictions however, don't center around the Brexit debate, nor share markets. We prefer to make predictions based around what you as agents are able to control. Real (as real as any prediction can be) predictions, let's say.
So, our top estate agency predictions for 2019 include:
1. Leaders will encourage more human interaction.
Sounds a bit daft, doesn't it. Agents encouraged to talk to clients more. Who would've thought? But we mean, really talk to your clients more. Really listen more. Learn more about a client or their home before an appointment. Ask the questions you've always avoided. Listen to understand, and communicate that to your clients by asking follow up questions.
Great agencies and their leaders will make this easy for the people on the ground by removing 'call targets' and instituting 'connection targets'. Agents won't be judged on the number of digits they finger into a phone, but the level of detail they know about their clients.
Viewing targets will move from 4-5 property tours to 4-5 star ratings by the clients on how well the agent listened and matched their needs. Valuations will be less by the book and more by the person. Great agents will set a clear agenda, but connect those dots live with their clients rather than robotically 'building rapport' by petting the dog, leaving the same price report as their competitors and making repeated, easily see-throughable small talk.
While technology can make us more efficient (see conveniently placed point 2 below), it will never replace face-to-face conversations. Agencies that encourage real personal connections will have more committed, satisfied workers and clients.
2. Technology will improve efficiency
What used to take an hour will now take 5 minutes. This is how you know you have great technology.
3. Agents will learn more than ever
Humans are born to learn. It wasn't just opposable thumbs that got us to 2019, we have always learnt and adapted over the ages. There's already been a major shift in the industry surrounding professional development and learning and in 2019 we will see this trend explode. And it is only a good thing.
This trend will be employee driven. Great agents know they need to improve as they seek to have better and better years. The big brands will move back towards training and development in house while the good independents will invest time and money into various third parties offering conferences and courses (both on and offline).
4. Companies will turn to retention over recruitment
For as long as we can remember, there's been an idea that in agency, you recruit top heavy early and within 3 months, you'll be left with who's going to make it. In 2019, retaining the best talent will be the #1 trend. Recruiting is expensive. Retaining shouldn't be.
Coupled with the increased training and development we spoke about above, companies will go out of their way to ID their best talent and move heaven and earth to make sure they feel valued and appreciated. We teams are appropriated valued, businesses receive 10% better productivity than otherwise. In an industry (and in a market) that shows signs of only getting tighter, people are key.
5. Mental well-being will get prioritised
Mental health is too big of an issue in the industry to be ignored any longer. With most agents living paycheck to paycheck, and a plethora of 'bad' news available to those who go looking for it, estate agents begin 2019 stressed out and potentially burned out. Workplace stress can lead to missed days at work and a huge reduction in productivity.
All estate agencies should offer their staff a mental health day if needed. Bigger companies will start to upskill their HR departments to be able to offer guidance and counselling on mental health issues their staff may be facing while independents will need to create an environment where any staff member can feel safe enough to discuss the issues they're facing in their heads.
We want to do our part by bringing more awareness to the conversation by starting #mentalhealthmondays. Through our Facebook community and wider networks, we will be promoting discussion around mental health in the property industry and ways in which we can all work and support our colleagues, businesses and industry to remove the stigma around the subject and hopefully add to the tools we have for working through any issues we're facing.
If you'd like to be a part - https://www.facebook.com/groups/homesearchcommunity/
They're our top 5 predictions for estate agency in 2019. We'll revisit these as the year progresses.
To your success!