Why listers are the most valuable people to any estate agency business – especially now

Who is the most valuable person in your estate agency business?

Is it the estate agency boss, who drives the team forward and keeps the show on the road?

The top-performing negotiator who repeatedly closes sales and brings in the commission?

Or the company accountant who keeps a beady eye on costs and identifies sources of finance for expansion?

The answer I would suggest, perhaps controversially, is none of the above. Without stock, agents would have nothing to sell to generate income, and for this reason alone, I would argue that the humble lister has the most important role to play in an estate agency business.

This is especially true in today’s depressed market. With limited stock, fewer transactions and a flat investor market due to the impact of Stamp Duty changes, estate agency branches need an exceptional lister to see them through the hard times.

Fighting over the same people

The problem is that many estate agents recognise this and, consequently, traditional and hybrid agents alike are fighting over the same small pool of effective listers with two or three years’ experience. So, what can be done to attract and retain this talent?

For some estate agents it all boils down to money. In fact, as EYE reported this week, Arun Estates, the largest independent estate agency in the south-east of England, has recently increased pay across the board for all its employees, including listers. This will no doubt have the desired effect.

As well as a competitive commission scheme and salaries, Arun offers its listers and managers a choice of aspirational cars from its fleet.

But tangible rewards aside, Arun Estates promotes itself as being a great company to work for, with good reason.

It has won several industry awards including one for outstanding training and boasts a supportive senior management team all of whom have worked their way up through the ranks.

The company’s culture is such that it encourages employees to participate in as many charity events as possible, even going so far as to pay the entry fees. The family-run business says its vision is to “out-passion other agents to help customers achieve their dream move”.

A strong believer in “growing their own”, the company offers staff a clearly defined career pathway, with opportunities for crossover, supported by the necessary training for every development stage.

And what of the fabulous, attention-grabbing incentives such as trips to exciting destinations like Dubai, New York and Iceland that were once so prevalent?

These will always have a place but estate agency is essentially a commission-based business so they will only have a real impact on staff retention when offered alongside a competitive remuneration package.

Fast-growing hybrid estate agent Purplebricks offers its 500 self-employed ‘local property experts’ a stake in the business in the form of share options. It promises on-target earnings averaging £45,000 a year but claims many of its property professionals are enjoying an annual income of more than £95,000. Indeed, we are seeing a number of Rayner Personnel-placed candidates on course to earn upwards of £60,000 pa.

Purplebricks guarantees its local property experts £2,000 per month income for the first three months after they undergo an initial ten-day training course.

A recent EYE story suggests the company is as good as its word, with Purplebricks making up the shortfall in income in a new recruit’s first month during which they won just one instruction. Purplebricks is currently seeking to increase the number of its local property experts to 300 in the near future.

While so far Purplebricks has only had to compete with traditional agents for talent, with hybrid competitor easyProperty set to relaunch its offering early next month, there will soon be another challenger fighting for experienced listers.

Listers can make or break a business

The role of lister is often under-appreciated. It is about more than knowing the local market and having a knack for valuing property. In our experience, the most successful listers are those who are willing to be proactive and ‘feed themselves’.

From talking to fellow parents at the school gates and knocking on the doors of properties listed with competitors, to traditional door drops and actively using social media to the full, a good lister will stop at nothing to find or create opportunities to win an instruction.

But all listers, however self-motivated, need to be supported.

Now more than ever, estate agency employers need to invest in their marketing activity to generate leads. Use every channel possible, both online and offline, from Facebook and Instagram campaigns to open house days and a greater board presence.

Consider investing in lead generation tools to ensure your lister’s diary is kept jam-packed or they will not only be bored but also not earning enough and therefore vulnerable to poaching.

In conclusion, my overarching message is to value your listers, because if you don’t have stock to sell, you don’t have a business.

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5 Comments

  1. MS1

    A poorly written article in my opinion!

    The role of a lister has always been the most crucial part of an estate agency business. Agreeing sales is obviously crucial, but in many cases these will happen in any event. How many times have we seen the worst photos, sometimes not even the correct way up, still entice a buyer?

    Valuing is a skill and will always be the fundermental aspect – hardly groundbreaking! I truly learnt this back in 2005 when a divisional director I was working for at the time congratulated our office on our record breaking sales and exchange month. His next sentence was to how many market appraisals and instructions had we booked thatweek? The penny dropped. Yes it would have been nice to be showered in more praise, but without the focus on the ‘top end activity’ a business is very short lived.

    Interesting praise for Arun Estates. I have competed against them since 2007 in various locations. I agree their training is excellent and many an agent I know have benefitted from staff that have left Arun Estates. My experience of dealing with them, dealing with clients that have used them and probably most importantly staff that have left them, is not that positive! There is a trade off from the recent pay rises given (I can’t recall the exact term) but certainly not the glowing positive reported above. Staff I know that hav left (strong agents, not bitter former employees I should add) generally paint a very different picture.

    Lastly, is the market depressed? Yes transactions are lower across my area and the country as a whole. Fees are a battle – they always are and there is plenty of uncertainty. But to say it is depressed is poorly written. YTD my office is ahead of target, as are plenty of agents I know and deal with. We could all do with x amount of more instructions and sales per month of course, but to say the market is depressed is wrong. But, as we know, if you talk about it enough you can convince people of something, you can make it happen!

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  2. Simon Bradbury

    A thought provoking piece Josh – thank you!

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  3. PatrickW53

    A statement of the Bl***ding obvious I would suggest.

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  4. J1

    Not really news this is is it?

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  5. Moveaside01

    Sorry, does Josh work for Arun? Pretty poor piece of obvious promotion and one which I do not expect from an impartial PIE. And who ever said a Lister is ‘Humble’ it’s always been the most important role in the business? Smacks of ‘Fake News’ to me…….

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