Estate agency is a challenging world, with uncertainty prevailing throughout each and every transaction until either contracts are exchanged – or the sale falls through.
The uncertainty revolves around the fact that no one can actually GUARANTEE that it will all go through, and without a crystal ball, everyone involved goes around with their fingers crossed!
It’s further complicated by the number of professionals that play key roles in the sale of property – including surveyors, solicitors, brokers and lenders.
It is often the case that the estate agent is the person the customer resorts to in order to help them understand where they are in the transaction and even more so with a chain, as the agent is the only one who has a clear picture of how many people are involved.
Most customers are anxious from the very start of their house sale/purchase, worrying about whether it will happen and, as most moves are for deeply personal reasons, they are also extremely emotional. Emotional people can easily become difficult people, making the task of keeping them calm even more challenging. Let’s not forget the stress of spending eye-watering sums of money moving home – it is rare to spend that same money on anything else in a lifetime!
From a commercial perspective, many high street agents operate on a no sale – no fee basis, with sales progression as an additional cost to the business, frequently involving weeks of post-sale activity just to get paid for finding a buyer for their vendor’s property.
As an ex-estate agent, I really understand the pressure of trying to liaise with multiple third parties, made even more difficult when limited to the primary channels of communication, i.e. telephone and email.
A great sales progressor is regarded as a real asset as they are masters of the art of communication, demonstrating their skills in obtaining accurate information from everyone involved and then broadcasting the news in a reassuring manner.
The lessons I learnt were:
No news is news. Don’t put off that call as you will certainly receive a call demanding an update and it may not be at a good time for you.
Don’t over-promise. You cannot guarantee sunny weather every day, but you can offer an umbrella when it rains!
Law firms always prefer email. If you need to talk to a conveyancer, make a list of all the cases you wish to discuss and then send the list with an email asking when they would be free to take your call. In that way, they have time to get the updates you need and you don’t have to leave endless voicemail messages.
Remember that for every matter, a fee earner will receive at least 6 inbound calls per week. They will always call their client first, followed by the other side’s solicitors, so it may be a while before they return estate agents’ calls.
Every time a conveyancer takes a call, they stop working on a case. Try to respect their need for time and only ring them when absolutely necessary.
Brokers are often forgotten in the round. However, they are key to most sales. Involve them and keep them informed to ensure finances are available when required.
Even the greatest sales progressor would welcome a little help in managing chains and complicated transactions. Using technology with digital channels of communication can undoubtedly assist with their role from delivering updates without the need to call, to making use of secure messaging with multiple parties (avoiding the need for duplication), and providing a clear picture of the chain.
More importantly, the habits of our customers are changing with many preferring to receive information and communicate via their phones and tablets – without the need to make or receive calls. In order to meet their expectations, estate agents need to keep abreast of technologies (such as sales progression and communication tools like mio) that help them deliver a more personalised service.
If you are interested in finding out how you can save valuable time and still be on top of your sales, ask us about mio and how you can claim your 6 months FREE introductory offer.
With thanks to Clare Yates, Senior Business Development Manager at mio’s parent company, tmgroup