I have been on a good many viewings with a range of different estate agents in recent months. There have been one or two excellent agents. However, frustratingly and disappointingly, it seems commonplace for the agents’ representatives to be utterly untrained and to have extremely limited knowledge of the property they are showing.
It would seem to be that “How old is the property?” is a reasonable question for me to ask. The answer “As you can see Mr O’Dell, it is fairly old…” was not an answer I was over-impressed with. “Is the loft boarded?”, “How much is the council tax?”, “Where is the boundary?” “Which of the parking spaces goes with this property?” and “What are the vendor’s onward plans?” also strike me as unsurprising queries. All resulted in vague responses if they got a response at all…”I don’t know” being the default setting. This is arguably a better response than the one we got about a right of way which turned out to be the polar opposite of the truth.
Staff conducting accompanied viewings sometimes hid behind the excuse “I’m only part-time” or “I only work Saturdays” as if that justified their ignorance. One simply unlocked the door, waved me inside and stood in the garden making calls on his mobile. Clearly it is not their fault that they are in that position – business owners and managers need to accept responsibility for the lack of training and of minimum standards.
It is ironic that training on conducting effective and professional accompanied viewings is often lacking, when the task of showing potential buyers around properties should be right up there on the list of priorities. It is what one might refer to as the “point of sale” - and if that is not important enough, how about all the instructions that are lost by a member of staff carrying out an inept viewing for an applicant with a local property to sell, who silently decides to go nowhere near that agent when they are choosing which one to instruct to sell their own? The resultant thousands of pounds of lost revenue as a direct result of failure to train the team properly is terrifying to contemplate.
I found it insightful recently to run a training session for “accompanied viewers” on how to carry their roles out to a better standard than the local competition. Early in the session, I split the group into twos/threes and asked them to answer a series of questions to get them thinking about the subject of viewings. One question was “What is the definition of selling?” – after a couple of minutes, one of the group raised his hand and asked “Why are you asking us that? We aren’t salespeople…” I smiled and explained, whilst inwardly despairing…
Obviously we continue to train the essential skills and techniques for exceptional viewings, but if you don’t want to employ us to do that, please, as a man who is fiercely proud of our profession, please undertake a training programme with your troops to avoid them falling into the traps above. Thanks.