Thursday, 5 April 2012

Changing the perception of Estate Agents in Central London

What is the general perception of Estate Agents in London?
In today's ever changing, fast paced world of Real Estate and technology, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to gain the trust of clients. Whether they are Landlords, sellers, tenants or potential buyers, it seems the general attitude towards Estate Agents has become negative. Why is this and what can be done to change this perception?

Google any "comments" on your typical Estate Agent in Central London and you can find an endless list of negative ones. We hear everything from - how the agent did not listen to what I wanted to how the Agent kept pushing properties that were above my price range on me. So, have Estate Agents brought this negative perception on themselves, or have clients become more demanding with the use of technology to assist them in doing the very things at which Agents used to be experts? Maybe it is a combination of both. At the end of the day, what really matters is the pace of change in the way business is being done today is ever increasing and this changes people's value judgments and expectations. It is not just the Real Estate business, which is going through major shifts. With booms and busts, coming more and more frequently and with the world growing smaller and more connected each year and consumers becoming more and more self reliant, the concept of expert has changed. Customers are no longer loyal to one Company and customers' expectations have increased dramatically, as information available to them makes it easier to understand a multitude of things once considered specialty trades. As a result, consumers have turned to doing things themselves. If they do use an Agency, they demand more and they demand it faster.

So what can an Estate Agent do to move the tide in the opposite direction? 
First, the Agent needs to become an expert in his changed field; a thorough understanding of real estate and the changing dynamics is essential in today's market. People now want a lifestyle, not just a house. To provide a lifestyle an agent needs to understand people not just houses. Functionality, aesthetics, ergonomics, cultural style, social networks and efficiency are just a few of the dynamics involved in fitting the right home with the right person. An Agent needs to be a keen listener in order to hear things said and the things not said. An agent needs to be able to gain the trust of his client in order to be able to probe intimate details and ask those questions that get to the heart of what the clients are truly looking for. Finally, an agent needs to offer sincerity. People want to know they are truly cared about. Today it seems everyone is in such a rush that service with sincerity has gone out the window. People are social beings and we require social interaction. Give a person ten real minutes of your time to just listen and you are likely to have a friend for life. An agent needs to be that friend for the period he is offering the service and more. People are more in tune with exactly what they want and have a better idea of how to get it. So where does this leave the Agent? Today the agent needs to be the friend who listens, the negotiator and the expert. In this new economy, agents are paid to remove the stress for both Landlord and tenant, by listening and matching tenant to Landlord in the most efficient manner. Today the agent needs to go that extra mile and then some, all with a huge dose of sincerity. 

Just as a farmer takes months to prepare each of his crops every season and does not reap the benefits until much further down the road, so an agent needs to look long term to make his business successful. The successful farmer starts with preparing his soil with all the right nutrients, then he plants the seeds, seeds which are healthy and strong, he then continues to nurture those seeds for many months before he sees any results. If the farmer does his job correctly, his seed will produce a crop one hundred fold of what he started with. 

The seeds the agent sows today will determine his crop of tomorrow. Give a client an unforgettable experience in finding his rental property today and he is sure to remember you ten years from now when he is ready to purchase his first home. Give him average service and he will forget who you are tomorrow. 

I hope these opinions are thought provoking enough to get a creative response of new and better ideas than I have presented. It is my sincere goal to find ways to bring estate Agent and customer closer together and to work in a spirit of harmony. I encourage your thoughts on this subject.

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