Friday, 27 June 2008

Estate Agent Today

A soon to launch online magazine for estate agents, Estate Agent Today.

Very interesting and I look forward to see it unveil on 1 July. Rosalind Renshaw is behind it, which must give it instant credibility and it is about time we had more online industry press.

The blurb and press release claims the 'The site will be like no other and feature:

* Daily Breaking News
* Regular Columns including “Ask the Expert”
* In depth articles and features covering the major topics affecting the industry including HIPS, Technology, Property Portals, Display & Interior Solutions, Recruitment and more.
* The indispensable and easy to use A - Z contact directories arranged by Sector
* Monthly Competitions & Prizes
* EAT Football Fantasy League
* Regular Life & Style Offers for your Agency
* Much more!!

The launch date has been set for Tuesday 1st July 2008 and we expect 40,000 users per month making our website one of the leading online platforms to promote your brand and service.'

I am not sure where the 40,000 guesstimate comes from, but we will be reading.

Good luck

Thursday, 19 June 2008

And here is the catch!

We posted a while back about the Foxtons offer of zero commission. A kindly ex employee comments on our post as follows:

As a former employee, I can reveal this is a very simple scheme. Foxtons will staff the Camden office with around 4 or 5 junior new sales negotiators (ie: graduates with no experience whatsoever) plus a newly promoted and hungry management team. - There is a fixed time limit (probably mid Sept) for you to get your property under offer. You only pay nothing if an offer accepted before that date proceeds to exchange.- To qualify you must be on sole agency and erect a board.Ergo, if the 4 or 5 virgin negotiators have the good fortune to stumble into a buyer before September and Foxton's inflated valuation is affirmed by the surveyor, then you might be lucky. around 5 or 6 of the 200 instructions they have taken on may get the Foxton treatment for free. The rest will discover in September that they have over-exposed their property for 3 months at an inflated price and will now be contractually bound to pay Foxtons a 2.5% fee on whatever offer they eventually get.Bon Chance!

It is no surprise, yet it is a shame that Foxtons are trying to blatantly trick customers. I almost commended the decision to offer zero commission as a good business strategy to capture market share in that area, but I cannot condone such a strategy that would appear to deliberately mislead the customer, why not just make good on the promise with no catches, what is wrong with them!

This does nothing to help all the struggling agents and agents that are trying to break free and distance themselves from such adverse publicity. Indeed this will just fuel the acceleration of the high street exodus. I have never bought into the ‘let’s blame Foxtons’ campaign, but when they pull stunts like this I am bound to say that our predictions of high street closures and a new highly personalised, customer focused, online estate agent are spot on and when we analyse this revolutionary period of change there will be those that look at Foxtons as a significant contributor to the demise of the high street agent.

Vive la revolution.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Virtual agents

And so it begins.

We have been saying for some time now that the days of the high street agent are changing. Spicer Haart and Tescos have still yet to announce what they are up to with their 'virtual' offering, but Your Move have actually made the first bold step.

Reported in the Negotiator this month (also not online yet!) Your Move have shut a Bristol office, kept the staff who now work from home and use their website as the primary selling vehicle. Although their MD is quoted as saying this virtual model complements rather than replaces the existing branch based model, I think we all know exactly what this means. It is akin to the chairman saying the football manager has the board's complete support. In other words, expect to see many more Your Move closures.

Just remember, you heard it hear first many moons ago!

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

British home owners flee the country

Nubricks, the overseas property blog, posts on a report published by Datamonitor which states that British and Irish investors currently own 3.81 million properties overseas.

Apparently this is an increasing number with more and more Britons looking to emigrate. Figures quoted expect the market to double in value between now and 2012. The report also claims the overseas property sector was worth £44.4 billion in 2006,

It is said that Britons are choosing to emigrate overseas on the back of high numbers of foreign migrant workers entering the UK, a yob culture, greater opportunity to further their careers internationally and the desire of many to seek a better standard of living overseas,

Given this appears to be one area with growth potential it is no wonder some of the shrewder agents are looking to see how they can maximise their overseas property exposure. Indeed, the money is good and in this present climate, very tempting.

So what to do? Andrea Kirkby writes in the EAT this month about adding an overseas element to an agent's business. She warns against the complexities of individual international markets and rightly sets out the benefits of joining a network such as the Overseas Homes Network or MoveWithUs.

Networks are certainly the future for estate agents, but one area the article overlooks is the online potential in dealing with such a market and growing the online network. Indeed, I was very, very surprised that the first agent I looked at on the Overseas Home network page did not have the online overseas property search within their website. Indeed, if I want to find out about overseas properties I have to email them or call them. So as a punter I won't ever find an overseas property on their website even though they subscribe to a network providing an abundance of overseas properties!! Result - Lost punter!!

Pursuing your online options is also far less risky than forging links with agents abroad and trying to approach any new relationship/business on a traditional 'high street agent' business model. Furthermore, developing links with networks are only any good if they are going to help you with your online marketing strategies.

There are other options to obtain white label sites from overseas property companies and offer your customers properties throughout the world. There will also be opportunities to broker deals with large online property sellers in other countries. Ask if you can feed their properties through your website with any enquiring leading to a sale generating a commission. You can control the level of involvement.

Entering into a relationship with a larger player may bring in a little less in commission, but it still brings in a commission nonetheless. Moreover it increases traffic to your website and thus your business. Let's face it if I am buying a property in Bulgaria I am going to search the Internet first. If my local agent pops up in a search result with an abundance of properties and what looks like a good relationship with the country in question, I am going to be impressed.

Your customer has left the building and the high street and is searching online. They are also looking for overseas properties.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Foxtons - A new branch office in Camden

Not to be deterred by knife crime, a declining presence of estate agents in the high street and a stalling housing market, Foxtons are opening a new branch in Camden. The reports on the new Foxtons' branch.

Whilst Foxtons have obviously been committed to this for some time, the more interesting point to note is their offer to coincide with the launch. They are offering the first 200 instructions a zero rate of commission.

Many agents would of course like to see 200 instructions and it is novel approach to capture what is left of the market. Indeed, as much as we all have to say about Foxtons I believe this is a shrewd move, namely, try and capture what is left of the market, lay off staff from other offices and absorb the costs.

If anyone at Foxtons is reading, perhaps they would be grateful to pass over the terms and conditions so we can see if this really is a zero rate and a free cappuccino offer.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Euro 2008 - Portals. Who will win?

Given that England won't be playing in the European Championship this year we thought you may want to support one of the portals instead. So who do you think will ultimately win? We didn't have enough room for all the portals so please check other if you don't see your team. For the sake of good sportsmanship my earlier ramblings about portal definitions does not apply to this competition.

I am also predicting some exciting news on the transfer front as well so watch this space. Good luck to all the teams:


Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Bradford and Bingley Ad

Do I want to rush out and buy ummm ..... whatever they are selling. I don't think so! Thanks to the Rat and Mouse for a great find.

May 2008 Survey - House Price Decline

The results are in from our May Survey.

We asked you all to predict house price decline over the next 12 months. Strangely, not one of you suggested there would be a rise! Anyway, the results are as follows:

Decline of 0 - 5%, percentage of vote 15%

Decline of 6 - 10%, percentage of vote 69%

Decline of 11 - 20%, percentage of vote 7%

Decline of 20% +, percentage of vote 7%

Please keep an eye out for the survey for June.