At any one time across the UK one million homes are being marketed for sale or for rent. That’s about 4% of the country’s property stock seeking a new occupant each month.
Those tasked with facilitating such transactions are one of the oldest professions in the land – estate agents. (Not quite the oldest profession, that’s something else entirely).
On average, according to Zoopla, it takes a UK home seller 50 days to find a buyer for their home. And then there’s the legal process known as ‘conveyancing’ and this takes, together with mortgage arrangements and so on, several weeks. In all, the home moving process could take between 3 and 6 months.
When we consider the time that it takes to move home, shouldn’t we also consider this in the context of how important it is to choose your estate agent carefully? I mean, you are deciding upon a relationship that will last for perhaps six months and may involve daily interaction. It takes celebrities less than that to get married and divorced sometimes!
And, what about the 9 to 5? By that I mean, do you think you’ll need to interact with an agent outside of your own working hours? Evenings, weekends, perhaps an early morning query here and there? If so, bear in mind that the vast majority of estate agents are very, very traditional in their opening hours and will mostly only talk to you when, ironically, you’re busy during the day.
The property industry in the United States does ‘service’ really well. They approach customer relationships with enthusiasm and encourage 24/7 contact and, frankly, they’re really nice about how they deal with people. They respect and appreciate their customers properly as, after all, they are paying them good money and no more so that when it comes to estate agency fees and which in the US are as high as 6%. In the UK, selling fees are amongst the lowest in the world – but does that mean that we should expect to compromise on how well we are looked after? No, exactly.
Typically in our country, individual agents working on the high street can earn just 5% to 10% of the fee that you pay. After-tax this isn’t a lot of money in most cases – especially for six months’ work and so no wonder the UK property industry has a pretty poor reputation for customer service.
The US model is nowhere in the UK. Keller Williams is a business that has expanded across the States with over 170,000 agents there and, intriguingly, 10,000 of them are millionaires. They earn big money. In fact, each agent earns the bulk of the selling commission that the client pays. What difference does this make? It makes for happy, motivated and enthusiastic agents that are enthusiastic about you and your property because they have a lot riding on the success of a sale. They don’t resent dealing with you out of hours and responding to a WhatsApp message on a Sunday afternoon or at nine at night. The service they deliver is better and you, the customer, get a better service and a better result – rather than your fee being channelled to multiple office rents, business rates etc.
So when choosing an agent to look after you and your sale, you should absolutely choose a motivated agent that will be there throughout the journey with you, guiding you every step of the way.