Agent Provocateur: The journey continues, says our new entrepreneur columnist

I don’t know what sort of brain you have but once mine’s into something it won’t switch off. That’s not always a good thing: obsessive thoughts at 3am or bleak thoughts at 7am are enough to make anyone bleary eyed.

Twenty thousand estate agents – how to get the right message to them, salaried job to unsalaried dot com entrepreneur, how to let everyone know what I’m doing, how best to utilise decades of experience in a fast moving property market . . . there’s plenty to occupy horizontal hours. I don’t remember dreams, sadly, so the occupied hours are waking ones. Artificial intelligence can be switched off but sentient beings don’t have that luxury.

Having said all that, I’ve been staggered at how receptive people have been and how they’ve been willing to listen.

Agency doesn’t always get a great press but actually it’s a dynamic and entrepreneurial business that’s beginning to come to terms with what the future may hold: emerging from a difficult period is always good for focusing the mind.

But what seems obvious to me is that it’s an industry still rooted in an either/or mentality as evidenced by the fact that many, if not most, of those hearing about Viewber assume that it is for online estate agents.

For some this would seem to place me in “enemy” territory, which is a really odd thing to encounter and clearly a first for me, having been a part of the putative establishment for so long. That’s been helpful insofar as it’s opened doors to all manner of agents, new and old, and as many have wanted to share my vision of the future as much as talk to me about the new service.

Luckily it seems the high street is beginning to realise that their future and profitability is as much about keeping an eye on costs as it about hanging on to what they have – doing more with less.

My simple vision for having sensible local people helping to do viewings does not imply agents can’t do the job, far from it, but I’ve been around long enough to know that there are a plethora of reasons agents can’t get to appointments, or indeed why managers are loathe to help other departments out or wouldn’t rather have negs using their time better.

Auction and lettings open houses, asset management inspections, second viewings/valuations and geographically diverse instructions can now be serviced by agencies who’d previously have struggled or been unwilling to commit the resource, and that’s hugely satisfying in an industry I’ve literally grown up in.

I have no idea why anyone would think that’s only of benefit to online agents – used properly it can help forward thinking and resourceful agents continue to compete and expand their sphere of influence well into the future.

Do we need a flying squad?

Sharing a vision is one thing and conversations are made more difficult against a backdrop of difficult to fathom statistics, messianic [and occasionally greedy] zeal, impenetrable technology and the consequent feeling that the playing field isn’t flat.

In an unregulated industry redress is mandatory but lightly policed – a combination that is manna to those who seek to ignore it or feel above it – and I doff my cap to those agents who are, off their own bat, seeking to right some of the up till now hidden wrongs wrought on the huge majority of hard working agents who tow the line.

Checking stats, which can affect any number of people from buyers and tenants, sellers and landlords right through to investors, needs to be a transparent process – right now it feels anything but with hyperbole often displacing fact making everyone look flat footed.

Anything the industry can do to bring examples to the attention of those who can enforce, especially given the woeful paucity of resource, should be welcomed – there’s a lot at stake.

Perhaps the industry’s own flying squad?

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6 Comments

  1. nextchapter

    I understand what’s trying to be achieved here, but I still don’t get it! If I want someone to take care of viewings for us, I’ll just hire someone to do that myself, like we already do.  If I want to grow our geographical reach with local experts, then I’ll just hire someone, like we already do.  To try appealing to any Estate Agent that is not online with this model is ridiculous.  I like the concept, but I think it’s a Dragons Den failure.  I get it, but who wants it?

     

    Good luck though, as it obviously takes vision and balls to move from that type of salaried job role into the unknown and just because I say I don’t get it, doesn’t mean I’m right.

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  2. RealAgent

    Call me old fashioned, but I believe a colomnist should offer a view on a subject that has wide industry interest, not use it to “flog ones wares”

     

     

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    1. AgencyInsider

      He may be flogging his wares but Mead is a well known and very experienced agent and his views are interesting, at least to me. What he is involved with – and other initiatives that will affect how agency works in future – may impact on our businesses. In case that is a negative impact I’d much rather know what he is up than find out when it’s too late.

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      1. RealAgent

        Unless you are his illegitimate love child, what he is has absolutely no bearing on this article or my comment. A article selling something is called an advertorial and as such it should have been headed up as that.

        If Ed Mead wants to comment on other aspects of the estate agency market then by all means crack on and I will happily join the ranks of those wanting to read it. If you want to sell to me then pay for a box advert down the side of the page like everyone else!

         

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        1. AgencyInsider

          Ah well. Chacun a son gout.

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  3. Trevor Mealham

    Ed, I daily face criticism as an off track renegade.

    But I do have an open view and comment as I see fit.

    I can see where agents don’t have a local viewing ‘bod’ the service could be very useful.  In particular i get INEA agents link with another 30-40 minutes awy to hold keys and help one another out which isn’t a privilege all agents have.

    Have you some examples of converts who have said in their shoes why its working!

    Im sure its not for all agents, but those taking 30-40-50 minutes to get to and again back from viewings or no shows would see its use.

    Q?

    What pedigree are the reps, ie do they all have agency experience as to not make CPR, or omission comments (or lack of).

    What happens if wrong things are said to viewers that encourage a transactional decision to proceed, when rep given comments might be deviated from accurate info.

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