Estate Agency: Agent or Brand (which makes the difference)?

question-mark-1872634_1280Choosing the right agent for you is easy. Or is it?

Well, it should be. After all, almost everywhere you go there are billboards, pole signs, for sale boards, adverts, …you get the idea. It was once noted on a social media post by a visitor to Port Elizabeth, that if you want to be famous in PE, become an estate agent. The reality is that we are being bombarded with print, outdoor, and social media advertising by estate agents and their brands.

As a homeowner (thinking of selling), the choices may seem overwhelming.

Then just to add to your dilemma, these agents are with different brands some of which spend millions advertising why their brand is the best. It is not unusual to see brands making statements that they are the biggest, have the most agents, in the most countries, are the real estate leaders, the brand whose agents sell the most,…, the list goes on.

In my experience, when I still practised as a lawyer, practising as an agent, working at one of these brands, and as a home seller; it still remains all about the specific agent.

I am not saying that all those hundreds of millions in paid advertising and strategic marketing promoting the brands is wasted. It serves a function which is to attract and keep estate agents at their brands and make them feel that their brand has done some of the work for them as far as brand recognition is concerned.

Despite, all the hype, your property experience will be determined by one person/s and that is the estate agent you choose. You can have the flashiest brand, the biggest brand, or even if it feeds your ego, the brand which targets aspirations and appearances; the fact is this all fades into obscurity when compared to the impact the agent you choose will have on the eventual outcome and your experience of the process.

The reality is despite everything else real estate is a personal service profession. That means that not only will you have the ensure that the profession you choose:

  • Is suitably qualified as an estate agent;
  • Knows how to craft a unique marketing plan tailored to your home;
  • Knows the technical aspects relating to property;
  • Knows the law applicable;
  • Has the experience;
  • Is client focussed, not remuneration focussed;
  • Cares about clients;
  • Can effectively execute your mandate; and
  • Most importantly is someone you trust.

When you decide to sell your single biggest advantage or challenge will be your agent. That is because they will be at the coal face with you, they will make sure your home is ready to go to market, they will be the one who will craft the strategy, make sure the marketing materials are stellar, engage with people interested in your property, qualify them, make sure only able buyers view, sell them on your home and the lifestyle it offers, negotiate, advise you on clauses required, field your questions on clauses inserted by the buyers, evaluate offers, and assist you to select the best offer (which may not always be the highest offer).

When the ink is dry on the mandate and the sparks begin to fly as the many working parts in the process begin to turn, it does not take long to realise that the agent you chose, is the determinant as to how you will experience your sale.

Let’s consider a few hypothetical scenarios:

Sally works as a rep in the sales department of a telecom company. She decides one day to get into real estate and joins an international brand. Through skilful marketing and personal branding, Sally is instantly transformed into an estate agent with a web site, business cards, and marketing material. Sally is great with clients but how much does she know about property?

Max is an agent with a company which does weekly training at the compulsory Monday morning meeting, where he is bored stiff. He just wants to get out and make money. Max is very successful but tends to leave a trail of unhappy clients in his wake (thank goodness for property’s long sale cycle).

Now let’s consider the case of Maggie. Maggie has a B.Com, studied the EAAB courses, passed the designation exams, maintains her CPD requirements, and still studied addition courses to make her a better agent. Maggie is client focussed, technically proficient, a formidable negotiator, detail orientated, is an area expert, and her clients love her. She does not chase hundreds of listings because she still wants time with her kids. Maggie has her own company.

When the action starts your agent will be what counts. At that point, whether their brand has millions of agents all over the globe, sells trillions in real estate every hour, has a university dedicated to learning, the biggest brand promotion budget; all means nothing. The hard cold reality is that most of that is all good and well but a great agent will still trump all of that and get you the best outcome with the best experience.

It’s maybe not as easy but that does not mean that its massive impossible.

In the blog next week, will be my suggestions on how to interview to find the right estate agent to sell your home.


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