Sharpen up for the final push...

Sharpen up for the final push...

Sharpen up for the final push...

We all know how important it is to go into the New Year with a healthy sales pipeline, and that October and November instructions and sales performance are crucial to our businesses.

TM training & development are running a series of training courses for forward thinking and hungry agents looking for the edge over the competition.

We will be coming to Manchester, Darlington, Bristol and Gatwick in October with our "Gaining Instructions from Vendors and Landlords This Autumn" and "How To Outsell Your Competition". Limited spaces are still available - book at
Click here to read Sharpen up for the final push....

Reach for the Stars!

As a reminder, Estate Agency All Stars finds potential trainee negotiators, puts them through a unique and rigorous recruitment and selection process and then offers them to appropriate employers. The successful candidates then receive training from TM training as part of the package during the very early part of their career.

Due to demand from a significant number of sales and lettings firms over recent months, we have now expanded our proposition to include the chance for agents who have recruited their own personnel to take advantage of the Estate Agency All Stars training course.

This five day programme gives each attendee the chance to receive thorough training in the crucial aspects of their work including how to conduct themselves in the workplace, agency terminology, the key processes of buying, selling, letting and renting, customer service, telephone techniques, registering applicants, handling fee enquiries, booking appraisals, arranging and conducting viewings, putting offers forward and much more.

The next course runs from Monday 19th August to Friday 23rd August and we have a handful of places left. If you have a trainee sales or lettings negotiator who has been in the industry for three months or less, they will be eligible for the course.

It is being held at TM training’s Training Centre in Eaton Socon, St Neots, Cambridgeshire and places are available now on a first come, first served basis at just &500 plus vat per delegate.

To book your staff onto this programme or to find out about future All Stars courses and dates, call Victoria Hancock at Estate Agency All Stars on 0845 5214 637 or email her

Making the most of Open Houses…

Open house viewings represent a proven property selling process in many parts of the world, including Australia and America, and have become more prevalent among proactive agents in the UK during the past few years. They work on all sorts of levels, from being a sales aid to an instruction winner, and can assist with the conundrum of running an estate agency on limited resources.

 As part of planning an open house, agents need to consider the date and duration of the event, the marketing materials and staffing necessary to make it a success, plus decide which of their properties are most suitable to advertise. A detailed timetable should then be prepared and followed in the run-up to the big day.

 New, sensibly priced, mid-market listings tend to be most suitable for open days; a crowd of viewers in a small property is impractical and can make the property seem pokey. Agents should not be tempted to use open houses to placate existing vendors with overpriced properties that have been on the market for some time; it is merely a waste of time and money.

 Vendors with suitable properties should be involved in the whole open house process. Even if their property fails to sell, a vendor will appreciate their agent’s efforts, thus increasing the chances of them continuing to stick with you and recommend you to others.

 Marketing is also key to success. A prominent local newspaper advert, possibly funded in part or wholly by the client, attracts interest. One client of mine produces a full-page advert for each open house property. If your company has a good relationship with your local newspaper, push for editorial coverage by way of an attention-grabbing press release - these events are often still deemed innovative enough to be considered newsworthy.

 Make doubly sure that all property marketing materials are accurate, well designed and have been approved by the vendor.

 Emailed communication to all potential applicants is essential and cheap. Snail mail should be used only for potential buyers without email addresses, and both media should be used in addition to window displays and website advertising. Consider property portals’ premium advertising services, which allow you to showcase a property. “Open house” flashes in on websites and window displays should be used wherever possible. Some agents also invest in bespoke for sale boards or swing boards, promoting details of their forthcoming event.

 Social media should be used widely to promote the event. Facebook and Twitter are powerful – use hashtags for the location so that anyone searching for that location will find it easily.

 Employing the services of a home stager has proven helpful for some agents. These firms are skilled at ensuring a property is presentable for viewing, which means that it is tidy and decorated to an acceptable standard for prospective buyers.

 Vendors should be advised to store valuables and personal papers, so there are no security issues on the day. It may also be prudent to advise clients’ neighbours about the event, which if you’re lucky, will result in it being promoted through word of mouth with local residents.

 The lead time between agreeing the event with your clients and the big day should be around three weeks, which will allow you time to generate sufficient interest. It is important not to be tempted to allow viewings any earlier, to maximize a sense of urgency on the day.

 Saturdays and Sundays work best for open house days, starting mid-morning for a duration of one or two hours. In the run-up to the day, you need to decide how many staff you require to manage enquiries and viewings, which you can base on the level of interest you have managed to so far generate. Whoever you choose, make sure they are fully conversant and knowledgeable regarding the subject property – they must have visited it and familiarised themselves beforehand.

 You also need to determine your vendor’s role. In many cases, it may be best to suggest your clients delegate full responsibility for their sale to you. Purchasers are likely to be more honest and open with questions and feedback if they don’t have to worry about upsetting a property owner.

 Materials necessary on the day include sets of sales particulars and a file containing all relevant information relating to advertised properties, including information on the local area, schools, transport links and key amenities.

 Feedback sheets should also be available to agents, which they can use to record viewers’ comments and then relate these back to their clients. You should check whether clients would prefer these completed by you and your staff, or by viewers in their own words. Blank registration forms should also be available to enable agents to collate details of new applicants.

 Ask viewers their opinion on the price, regardless of their thoughts on the property – this third party feedback will prove vital in the negotiation stages or when suggesting any subsequent price adjustments.

 Whatever the success rate of an open house, you can use it as a value-added service to help justify your fee, which in turn will help you win further instructions.

House price reports – what do they really tell us???

 They go up-diddly-up, they go down-diddly-down…

House prices rose for a good few years, then plummeted and are now rising again. They have been a conversation piece at many a dinner party over the years but what is really going on? There is a raft of reports every single month – just recently three were published on three consecutive days and were all widely reported in the media. The constantly contradictory content only serves to create confusion amongst the general public

So what do these reports really tell us? The best way of answering that is to understand the methodology of each, so a rational decision can be made as to the validity thereof. Generally speaking, each report is compiled in a different manner to the rest – there is a distinct absence of consistency in approach.

There are a number of monthly reports into the property market in the UK. Perhaps the best known are those from Nationwide, Halifax, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Rightmove, Hometrack and. the Land Registry

The subsequent media coverage of these reports is then based on journalists’ interpretation of the data, which in itself leaves room for even more confusion. Recently the same house price report with the key figures being that prices had risen by 0.9% year on year but fallen 0.1% month on month generated headlines in three different places as follows: "House prices on the up", "House prices slip" and "House prices stable". Little wonder there is such public confusion!

How are house prices calculated in these reports? Many of these reports focus on either estate agents or property valuers going to properties that are up for sale and then scale this up to represent the whole market.

Nationwide and Halifax have an almost identical approach to one another.

When the bank or building society sends out a valuer to see if the property is worth as much as the buyer says, so they can approve the mortgage application and this value is then added to their database.

Broadly speaking, the two lenders then take a sample of their database figures and see what movement there has been from a similar sample a month before and a year before.

The fact that these reports are based on mortgage approvals, are only a sample, and by definition only include their own activity, means a whole chunk of the market is excluded (other lenders’ data, cash purchases etc).

Other reports The Office for National Statistics does not get as much coverage as Nationwide and Halifax. Their methodology involves a sample of mortgage completions data from the Regulated Mortgage Survey (RMS) as collected by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). The sample size seems to be circa 65% of mortgage-related completed purchases.

They then apply their own formulas to turn this data into a notional "average" house price.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) asks its members every month whether they are seeing house prices rise or fall, then turns this into a percentage.

They report the number of people seeing prices rises against seeing house price falls as a percentage. For example, one month 27% more surveyors might see house prices rise rather than fall or 16% more surveyors might see prices fall than rise. These responses lead to a sentiment rating which is a positive or negative figure depending on the majority view.

Rightmove, on the other hand, report on asking prices. It's a little like looking in estate agents' windows (admittedly over 90% of windows across the country) to assess house price movement.

This means only properties on the market are included.

The fact that the Rightmove report doesn't actually tell you what houses are selling for, only what the people putting their homes up for sale think they are worth. Not all homes sell for their original asking price and a significant percentage of the homes in the Rightmove index never sell at all.

Hometrack is a company who provide data on property market activity, looking at all areas of the market - regardless of whether homes are being sold or not - and asking estate agents what the value of homes in each English and Welsh postcode is, assuming a willing seller and reasonable time to market the home.

This approach means homes not for sale are included and the impact of hotspots and crisis areas are minimised. However, it also assumes that estate agents are providing valid information rather than saying what they think should be said or guessing!

The Land Registry report looks at the actual price change in specific houses.

As all homes have to be registered with new owners after a deal is done, the Land Registry just works out what the change in price of each actual home registered is and how long it's been since it last changed hands.

Very relevant data without doubt, however it can take months between a property selling and it being registered with the new owners. This means the Land Registry figures are always behind the market. It also only looks at homes that are changing hands.

Conclusion House price reports can be interesting and useful to give a flavour of what is generally happening in the property market.

But vendors and buyers should do their own local research as the figures broadcast in the national media are, by definition, national figures. Given that the UK property market has been described recently as a "Malteser" – in other words made up of lots of tiny individual bubbles – any overall statistics can be very misleading.

A property is worth, and in reality always has been and always will be worth, what a buyer is prepared to pay for it.


Thought for the day ...

"Business is always a struggle. There are always obstacles and competitors. There is never an open road, except the wide road that leads to failure. Every great success has always been achieved by fight. Every winner has scars.... The ones who succeed are the efficient few. They are the few who have the ambition and willpower to develop themselves." - Herbert N. Casson