Firstly, it’s important that we make a clear distinction between the two different types of customer which estate agents deal with. On the one hand there are buyers and renters: let’s call them ‘Customers’. And on the other hand, we have sellers and landlords: let’s actually call them ‘Clients’.
The reason we need to make the distinction is because only clients pay our fees, our customers do not. Now, there’s a whole argument just in that one simple distinction as letting agents do charge tenants fees for, among other things, referencing, tenancy agreements and inventory check ins or check outs. But as Proper Local is not one of those agencies which actually tries to make a profit out of our tenants – we’re just covering real costs – then we feel comfortable to move on.
We derive our fees from the people, the clients, that we act for. We get paid if we sell something for our sellers, or let something for our landlords.
We are representing the best interests of our clients, so that often means we are delivering bad news to our customers on our clients’ behalf and can be seen as the bad guys. Now we’re not trying to excuse all estate agents of their actions with our simple distinction, but this distinction does need to be made.
The other thing which needs to be clear, and it’s something we are incredibly passionate about, is that we have an absolute duty of care to our customers, to our buyers and tenants. We can’t represent you in a transaction because you’re not paying us, the client is, but can we ensure that you’re not taken for a ride? Can we ensure that you’re not being dealt with unethically? Can we be on hand to take you through the process and answer questions which we’ve been asked a thousand times before? Yes, absolutely.
What we think is that all our customers just want to be dealt with promptly and fairly. For us it’s about effective communication.
So, that’s what we think, but what do you think?
We actually have some insight as Feefo, our review partner, commissioned a survey of over 1,100 users of estate agency services last year, with interesting results.
Here’s some headlines:
- 52% of consumers say the last estate agent they used was efficient and effective
- 44% of consumers liked how quickly their agent responded to queries
- 46% of consumers want technology to sort out paperwork
- 35% say low fees are important when it comes to deciding between online and traditional estate agents; but 34% say it is quality of service that counts
- 28% say being able to trust the agent is most important
- 42% rate knowledge of the local market most highly in a valuing agent
Feefo actually put quite a positive spin on the first stat, that more than half of respondents (52%) saying their last agent was efficient and effective. We however would argue that this is an awful stat! If 48% of our customers thought we were inefficient and ineffective we’d be mortified!
It’s also interesting that only 35% consider low fees important, but we’re quite happy to carry on offering exceptional value for money. If you’d like us to charge you more do let us know!