What I Love and Loathe about Estate Agency

This blog has been brewing for a while.

It’s been an itch I’ve needed to scratch.

A weight I’ve felt on my shoulders.

Over the past few months, I’ve been increasingly aware of the things that I hate about running a business in the estate agency sector.

I sat down to write about these things – a part of this blog is linked to that.

But what surprised me more was that as I listed the things I loathe, my mind kept conjuring up the things I love about working with estate agents and industry colleagues.

So, here’s what I love and loathe about this industry.

1. Smells like community spirit – I don’t think there is a business sector in the country that does more for its local communities. Independent agents punch way above their weight when it comes to giving back. This could be in the form of donations, hosting seasonal events for kids, supporting foodbanks and community groups, arranging litter picks and much more.

2.The humour – Contrary to popular public belief, a lot of agents are witty and a good laugh. I’m thinking of people who take their work but not themselves seriously – Tom McGee, Sarah Clark, Sacha Martin and Craig Thompson all spring to mind.

3.The honesty – Again, this one flies in the face of a lot of public perception. 95% of estate agents, in my experience, are trustworthy. I know this from hearing how they look after clients and put their best interests first. But I also know this from personal experience. One example was when we sent out a mass email that contained content we actually sell – it shouldn’t have been sent out, but sh!7 happens, and it was. Several agents contacted me saying they hadn’t paid for it, would delete it immediately and let me know what happened.

4.The friendly rivalry – My biggest competitor in the content for estate agents game is Chris Watkin. Everyone knows Chris. He’s an incredible example of being consistent with content – with his stat posts and useful video interviews. Sure, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but over the years, we’ve become good mates and help each other out wherever and whenever we can. I’ve good (and bad) relationships with several other supplier / industry partners, but Chris is my closest one.

5.The togetherness – Our business has a couple of WhatsApp groups for our clients. Setting them up has been one of the best and simplest things I’ve done. It’s fantastic and often fascinating to see how the collective experience of all those agents comes together to help an individual.

Now for what I loathe – which ends with a shock conclusion.

1.Social media guff – A lot of the things I see agents and suppliers posting on social media are tosh, in my opinion. Slow-mo videos of agents walking moodily down the street like they’re a Peaky Blinder but with shorter trousers and shinier shoes – FFS, please stop. I showed my best mate Leon (a builder) one such video, and his response is one I’m betting is shared by a lot of ‘the public’. “See what I mean? Right there is why people think estate agents are smarmy pr!cks. He should be putting that video on a dating app, not LinkedIn.” The key question here is are you making content for your ego (‘my colleagues think I’m a legend’) or your audience (‘this will benefit my sellers / buyers’).

2.The trade media – Being a former journalist and PR man, I feel better equipped commenting about this area of the industry than I do the nuts and bolts of being an agent (which is something I never do). For the record, the trade media has a lot of very good, hard-working journalists within it, who I respect a lot. It’s just I wish they were given more scope and support to do some real journalism rather than be used as a platform for corporate agencies’ and suppliers’ PR efforts. I believe that if one of the big three of the trade media backs their journalists with more resources and allows them to really report the news by asking questions, digging deeper and challenging statements, they’d quickly become the clear go-to site / publication.

3.The terrible terminology – I’ve spoken about this before – truly excellent communication begins when you talk the language of the person you are trying to build rapport with. For example, how many times has a home seller referred to themselves as the vendor? And that person who wants to buy the semi-detached for £250,000 – do they ring up and say, “It’s the applicant here?”. The flipside of this is the brilliant way Paramount Properties use language within their agency – it’s mindset-moving stuff. Say ‘owners’ not ‘landlords’ – ‘residents’ not ‘tenants’, ‘reviews’ not ‘inspections,’ – and that’s just for starters.

4.People are not promotional props – This one is aimed at sections of the supplier community. I’ve unfollowed several suppliers who seem to think that taking a selfie with an agent / agents somehow enhances their desirability. To be brutally honest, I’ve been guilty of this in the past. It’s probably why I loathe this approach so much. Surely it’s better to take away a little more knowledge and understanding from a meeting than it is a snap for social media?

And finally

I wrote the main part of this blog in one hit.

Then, as is my preferred technique, I revisited the draft 24 hours later.

It was doing this that made me realise the score – Love 5 – Hate 4.

Which goes to show that the Ancient Greeks and Whitney Houston were right when they said, ‘Love always wins.’

What do you love and loathe about this industry of ours?

Thanks for reading,