It seems every agent’s biggest problem at the moment is lack of stock. Plenty of tenants and plenty of buyers around, but landlords and vendors are in very short supply. I had a message the other week that an agent in SW London was down to his last 2 properties, which is about as near to crisis-point as I can imagine. Then comes the fee war where agents drop as far they dare in order to win that vital and elusive instruction, and the downward spiral begins, the overvaluing starts and it all goes west. Your vendor gets pissed off you lied to them, you get frustrated at them insisting on listening to your initial advice, the end of your agency agreement comes, they go elsewhere at a more realistic price, and your competitor sells it. NEXT!
So let’s be clear, when no-one is moving, it is very unlikely that dropping your fees is going to have much of an impact on the amount of property coming onto the market. However, there is more property available than you may be allowing yourself to believe. If we take the case of the agent down to his last 2 listings, a quick search on Rightmove revealed that, in his postcode, almost 400 properties were for sale. His area is particularly stuffed with estate agents so the spread across his competitors is fairly wide, but nonetheless, there are 390 properties that are available, on the market, and not sold. So for this particular agent, and probably many, many more, there is enough business out there. But, if you want to get more property on right now, you’re going to have to take it from other estate agents.
Now, some of you might think that’s unethical, and I’ve just read a post somewhere saying touting for business is grubby and unprofessional. Well, is it? Don’t you do exactly that when you advertise your services, say how good you are, or meet a vendor or landlord and show them what you do? It’s all touting. The only difference is whether you sit and wait for people to call you, or whether you take matters into your own hands and do something productive about getting more properties onto your books. I see nothing wrong with well written, well thought out and individually targeted letters that demonstrate to ONE owner how interested you are in THEM, that you’ve taken note of THEIR current marketing, and you have some suggestions that address specific points about THEIR property.
I’m talking about getting personal, in a nice way.
Mention the current marketing: the text, the photos, the description of anything you can find that you think you can do better. Then tell them why you can do it better, and give examples. Yes that’s right, I’m talking about giving away what you would do. Don’t keep it a secret, don’t promise nebulas wonders. Be specific, be clear, be generous. And yes, they might stay with their current agent and do those things. But then, they’re already with another agent anyway, so your loss is not real. BUT, if they are dissatisified with their current agent, you are at least in with a chance as they’ll already be thinking about calling someone else. Some agents won’t bother with this – they’ll either stick to thinking it’s up to vendors to call them, or they’ll think it’s pointless, or they’ll find some other excuse – so what better chance for you stand out?
Imagine if a vendor got a letter from you saying: “Hello Mr Bobbins, We love everything about your property and we really want to sell it for you. We’ve noticed you’ve been on the market for a while and we have some suggestions for getting you moved quickly. Obviously our main recommendation is that you use us, but we’d like to tell you some of the things we would do specifically for YOUR property. We think the text doesn’t make as much as it could of that amazing entertaining space you have downstairs, and neither of the size of the master bedroom suite. We think the photos could be better too; we use a great camera with an expensive wide-angle lens and a tripod. All our photos look brilliant and we think we can get some beautiful shots of your living room, kitchen and master bedroom. We’d also photograph your garden – which sounds great but has no photo – and, having driven past a few times, we know we can get a better picture of the front of your house. We love Bubble Street and have sold two more houses very close to yours (details enclosed), both within a short space of time. We feel we can do a great job for you and would love to come and talk about why we’d be a great choice. If you decide to stay with your current agent, we wish you the very best success in your move. All the best. Roger.”
Whoever gets a letter like that? Hardly anyone. What they mainly get – if anything – is a standard, impersonal, boring and lacklustre creation; a great tonic for insomnia, but hardly a stand-out and irresistible call to action. If you feel your writing abilities aren’t up to scratch, you’re welcome to get in touch with me! Or indeed someone else, or get a colleague to help. You may well be surprised at the skills you find readily available.
Other options; stick a big note on the front of your website saying you need more property, and stick a note in your window to the same effect. You could take out an advert in the local press purely for winning more instructions. Show how many you’ve sold, or testimonials from happy clients; make a clear request for people to get in touch. You could start blogging about it, or facebooking, or twittering. If you’re entertaining, informative, smart and generous enough, I don’t see how you can fail.
So that’s it. Good luck, and may the force be with you.