I was delighted to feature, for the very first time, a New Homes development on the front cover of the Autumn/ Winter issue of our bi-annual magazine, Collection. We are extremely proud to be connected with the Smith’s Dock development in North Shields which represents one of the finest, most innovative new homes schemes to be built in the North of England over recent decades. It has transformed the former proud working area of the ship building docks into a beautiful place to live with a diverse mix of luxurious, contemporary apartments and fabulous energy efficient two and three storey homes. We strongly recommend, if you haven’t visited this site, to do so, where our colleagues will be delighted to welcome you 5 days a week. See www.smithsdock.co.uk.
The title of this article indicates my review of the estate agency industry and the changes we have experienced in recent times. The arrival of online estate agents has undoubtedly shaken our traditional industry and they now represent something in the region of 8% of the market place. The ability to purchase an estate agent up front, at a low cost is obviously attractive to certain consumers, and we must review where that attraction lies and what the benefits of it are compared to traditional skills. My own company has, for a long time, invested in expensive high street offices, however, the success of our magnificent website and its everchanging features is undoubtedly proving to be an extremely good investment. The number of people visiting our branches has dramatically reduced in recent years, with the tremendous visibility of properties online. The majority of consumers want to have access and ease of shopping, and the Amazon model is proving very clearly how the public react to shopping online. Whilst many of us continue to look out for ‘local industry’ it still needs to be easy, quick and efficient and this is why online business continues to have a great attraction. The most significant focus, I believe, in how an estate agent makes a difference, is through their expertise, experience, knowledge and understanding of the way in which they can benefit a client.
At the end of the day we are selling a commodity, and that commodity is probably the most valuable our client owns. Like all commodities from houses to jewellery, cars and artwork, the value of a property depends on how many people see it for sale, understand its worth and value its benefit. I am firmly of the belief that properties can vary in value by between 5% – 10% minimum, and for most of us this represents a significant amount of money, which is effectively being gambled every time you offer it for sale. The principal way in which estate agents make a difference is the ability to reach out, not only to the maximum number of people, but to convince those people to buy that commodity at the best price possible and to overcome objections as and when they may occur during the transaction. These skills often save, or make up to, 10% of the property value; a significant sum of money for any vendor to gamble! Online estate agents, low value estate agents and people who charge a low level of fee are obviously hoping to transact a very high volume of properties or they are remunerating their team at a low level. If staff are remunerated at low levels then they won’t feel valued and you will attract inexperienced, unqualified and uncaring qualities.
By investing in your skills and employees, you should be able to recruit the very best people who can transact that business to the highest level of value, in the quickest period of time and with the least amount of problems occurring. This, I believe, is where estate agents can make a difference.
I think, as I look to the future, the need for expensive offices will dissipate; the focus on high quality connections and communications between the estate agent and their client will increase and I can see a time coming soon when we will need to have live communication 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which is something we are constantly reviewing.
The need for expertise and professional service is where Sanderson Young focus most of their attention. My company is represented by 50 high quality employees, who have, in many cases, worked in the industry for a long period of time: they are local specialists, they know their area, the house styles, the housing problems, the transaction difficulties and the premium levels that sometimes can be achieved in certain locations. Values can change dramatically, even within a street, where one side or another can carry a premium when one style of house and one age of property can also vary dramatically. It is through the local knowledge that we carry and the experience of the years of selling in these areas, that we can accurately forecast this.
We see property values rising steadily over the next 12 months due to the shortage of supply, and even though some of the magnificent new homes sites which we are opening will satisfy some of that supply, we need to build many more properties very quickly to reach current demand.
I am delighted that the colleagues I work with within Sanderson Young are continuing to be valued by so many of our clients and that our in-depth knowledge of the housing market proves the worth of an estate agent over and beyond the low level fees and online operators, so that we can genuinely provide value for money and prove, undoubtedly, to our clients, how a good estate agent can make a significant difference. The latter part of 2018, and the start of 2019, will see a number of new show homes being opened at some of our fantastic new developments, including the Smokehouses at Smith’s Dock, the Ascent Homes development at Hemingway Court at Ponteland, and Foxton Glade at Lesbury, representing only three of the most exciting developments within the region. Thank you to our past and present clients for their fantastic loyalty and support in recent times and I look forward to welcoming new clients to our company in 2018/19 where we strive to exceed the expectations of every client we represent.