We know that the internet hybrid agents are calling their valuers ‘Local Property Experts’. But how do you define ‘an expert’ in the eyes of the buying public? And if someone fails to meet that definition, should there be some form of recourse or sanctions against them for declaring themselves to be something they are not?
The dictionary defines an ‘expert’ as ‘a person who is very knowledgeable about or skilled in a particular area’. That would suggest that LPEs live in the area and have worked in those areas for some time to be able to advise sellers on price, demand and speed of sale. What’s the knowledge test?
Traditional estate agents employ local. The unwritten rule is 15 to 20 miles from a base office is local.
If you look at some of the LinkedIn profiles of some LPEs, they are one hour’s drive from the location they purport to be an expert in.
Surely local knowledge is key to being an expert in that you must include information about schools, transport links and local demand.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to ask the internet hybrid community if they think they are experts and then see just how local they are to the area they list?
I know of someone who travels an hour and a half to a location where they are an LPE, which would suggest they are not an expert as they haven’t been working in that area for an extended period of time.
It also throws light on the fact that traditional estate agents have large databases of local people and are able to advise sellers about the emotional buyers who will pay over the odds.
I have not yet seen a model of hybrid agent that knows those buyers intimately because of working areas for over ten years or more, which most traditional agents will have.
For example, you might know that someone would like to buy property in a certain school catchment area and would pay £25,000 more. There is no way that the LPE would know of those people when valuing.
These days, online valuations and data showing asking prices and sale prices are readily available. So an LPE with the right knowledge will know pricing but he or she will not know the idiosyncrasies of those markets where those people may be paying more for a certain reason, such as a new high speed link to a commuter town.
It’s fair to say that one of the many reasons that London’s iconic cab drivers have risen up against Uber is because they must learn ‘The Knowledge’, to prove they know the local roads through the city, and the Uber drivers don’t.
Perhaps it is time we instituted our own ‘Local Knowledge’ tests for anyone dealing with property sales – to prove to our customers that we really do know what we are talking about.
Does video stardom now beckon for estate agents?
We know that consumers are not only influenced by ratings and reviews in the internet era, but they also like to look at video.
According to various surveys, three-quarters of all internet traffic this year will be video; the average internet user watches 32 videos a month, and 58% of buyers want and expect to see video of a home they’re looking at online.
We have found in areas where we use teaser videos on social media to encourage people to look at property, we are more likely to get more people interested in the property – and more listings as a result.
It’s such an impressive outcome, linked to our FLINK social media software, that we have bought new cameras and are training increasing numbers of our staff in how to shoot effective video.
This means we now need estate agents to be good on camera, becoming the vloggers of the future. Move over Zoella, with your 8m subscribers!
It’s time for us estate agents to steal a share of the market instead. Maybe six months in acting school should form part of every estate agent’s training in future?