Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
Thu 01 Nov 2007
The above quote is one of my favourites. It was said nearly 500 years ago yet it has just as much relevance today as it did back then and with the property market entering a new and different phase its simple message becomes ever more pertinent. Ill tell you its author at the end of the article.
I have been lucky enough over the past month or so to be judging a category in the Estate Agents of the Year Award 2007. It has been a refreshing, eye opening, sometimes frustrating but most of all rewarding process. I have been able to speak to the Chief Executives of a number of the best estate agency businesses in the country and quiz them on why their business is thriving (or not as the case may be) and what they put their success (or otherwise!) down to. In general I have been extremely impressed and in some cases made to feel a fairly inadequate! Lets face it, as an industry we have our fair share or rather more than our fair share, of bad press however from what I can see we can be proud that in the vast majority of cases we run an extremely tight ship. I am realistic enough to appreciate that as an industry we will always be pilloried in the pressits our job to be the middle man, the meat in the sandwich and to take what buyer and seller throw at us. However, just like any other business, there are good and bad out there.
In general all the agents I spoke to talked about training, service, integrity, how fantastic their websites were, how great they people were and told me many of the things that they thought made their agencies special. The winner and I am not going to tell you who it is as it will not be announced until the end of this month, was a business that I greatly admire and am pleased to say did not disappoint. The presentation was certainly not the best of the bunch, and I am not sure that their website is the most technologically advanced or the presentation of their particulars the best, however, it was their ability to deliver an excellent estate agency service that to my mind made them special. A great service doesnt mean flashy particulars, websites that are so full of tricks and gizmos that no-one can use them and people give up before they can find out, but pure, old fashioned simple estate agency.
What do people want from their estate agent? I would suggest that what they really want is the agent to be efficient and effective in that order. They want to be utterly confident that the agent will do everything within their power to obtain for them the best possible price that the market will pay in the shortest possible time and that is simple estate agency. Telephoning tenants and buyers, offering them property, persuading them to visit and then negotiating with them to obtain the best possible price with their client. Over the past few years my view is that many agents have simply turned into order takers. The market has been extremely favourable to them and they havent really needed to sell. Well, we are in a different ball game now and entering a phase in the market when good agents will thrive and complacent agents will fail.
In the market today agents would be well advised to get right back to basics: do the simple things well, deliver service to buyers and sellers effectively and with integrity and the business will flow their way.
One final thing, the quote it was made a well known artist of the day, one Leonardo da Vinci. Obviously a man well ahead of his time.