I spend a lot of time thinking about and discussing the differences between full-service high street estate agents and self-service, low-cost online agents with clients and peer groups. There are the inevitable fee comparisons, real people or computer algorithms, doing your own viewings and conducting negotiations yourself or viewings being pre-qualified and accompanied by an experienced, highly skilled sales negotiator and how this might affect the price you achieve. All of these and I suspect many others.
But something happened the other day that I hadn’t considered and is hugely significant in this debate!
We are currently selling a bungalow in Cheadle for an elderly lady client, who hasn’t moved in years. In fact, I have huge admiration for her. It must be incredibly difficult to move as you get older, especially on your own and she is moving down to the South coast to be near her family. Last week the lady had informed us that she was going to visit her family and view a couple of properties, so it was a bit of surprise when we received a somewhat frantic phone call from the lady on the day she was heading down South- Davina, one of our negotiating team took the call and it would appear, the lady had left a loaf of bread in the bread bin and she was concerned with the heat it would go mouldy! She was very apologetic and asked if one of us would be kind enough to pop round to the property, which is only round the corner from the office and stick the bread in the freezer! Davina, bless her, immediately said yes of course and she came to me and explained what had happened. We agreed Davina would pop round later the same morning and pop the bread in the freezer.
In fact, we have decided to go one stage further. As the lady will be returning tomorrow, we have decided we are going to pop round again and put a loaf of bread in the bread bin with our compliments along with a small bottle of milk in the fridge for good measure, just in case she hasn’t had time to buy a few essentials on her long journey back.
It’s about being there for our clients when they need us
Now in the grand scheme of things this might not seem particularly important, but you see, to me estate agency isn’t just about selling houses, it is about being there for our clients when they need us, providing the human face of reassurance whether it be handling tricky negotiations, a difficult survey or just sticking a loaf of bread in the freezer! And I firmly believe this to be the biggest reason online agents have not made the inroads their investors/backers might have expected.
I guess I have also found a new anecdotal story to highlight another difference between high street and online agents and maybe a new strap line – it’s the little things that make the biggest difference!
Thanks for reading