Nowadays, looking through the estate agency job adverts, especially in London, it’s quite common to see firms seeking to recruit staff who are fluent in Mandarin or Cantonese.
Having personnel on your team who can connect culturally with clientele; understanding their language and traditions, right through to superstitions attached to buying certain property has proved a valuable approach for many estate agencies.
Placing staff in branches where their ethnic background can help provide an edge in winning business over rival firms, is not a new phenomenon in estate agency. Over the decades, this strategy has worked well for companies dealing with clients of Arabic, Russian, Indian and Polish backgrounds to name but a few.
Today, however, so significant are the numbers of property investors of Chinese origin that many established estate agencies have adapted their operations; forming entire departments dedicated to serving the needs of such buyers.
While applauding the estate agents’ efforts in gaining a thorough understanding of their clients’ requirements, are the clients any the wiser about how the estate agents do what they do? For example, do prospective buyers know the best method of communicating with an estate agent to ensure they’re informed of properties new to the market? How do estate agents register and categorise buyers viewing some as strong, others as weak – even time wasters in the extreme?
Answers to these questions and many more can be found in the new book: Inside EA – A Behind the Scenes Look at How Estate Agents Operate by Steve Lucas (amazon.co.uk). There are 348 pages giving a thorough insight into the world of estate agency providing essential reading for property buyers and sellers as well as anyone considering a career in the industry.
An extract from the book.
Buying property and the Internet
Imagine the following scenario: a house hunter goes online and registers their details and property requirements with a well-known property website. They’ve also set up alerts to receive an email or SMS message when a suitable property comes to the market.
At 9.45 on a Monday morning, the buyer receives an automated email alert to say that a house matching their requirements has just come onto the market with an estate agent they’ve registered with. The buyer has a brief look through the property’s specifications and immediately calls the estate agency to request a viewing. At 9.53, the estate agent tells the buyer that the property is under offer and no longer available for viewing. The prospective buyer, quite understandably, is very puzzled. Are they expected to believe that in the eight minutes since the email alert was received, another buyer has been to view the property and made an offer, which the estate agent put forward to the seller and got the sale agreed, and the property has been taken off the market?
I’ve encountered such scenarios countless times. In fact the one mentioned above relates to a family home that we brought to the market on Saturday lunchtime and agreed its sale before the end of the day. The owner telephoned us that morning to ask if we could fit in an appraisal that same day. They’d found a property they really wanted to buy and so needed to get theirs sold as soon as possible.
Our manager rearranged his lunch break and went along to the property where the owner gave instruction. We began phoning prospective buyers, many of whom weren’t available for viewing that day, and some we couldn’t reach. Of those people we did speak to, the first one to view the house made an offer, which the owner accepted.
Later that day, our manager, while chewing a chicken Caesar wrap, began preparing the property particulars for the administrator to type up when she was back in the office on Monday. When the office administrator prepared the property particulars on the Monday morning, as soon as she put them into the database, they were automatically uploaded to the websites we advertised with, which in turn triggered the buyer alerts.
Why prepare particulars and advertising if the property is already under offer? Firstly, when a sale is agreed, the estate agent will notify the buyer, seller, and their respective solicitors in writing and will also include a copy of the particulars of sale. As for the advertising, estate agents might not use up a paid slot in the local newspaper for a property already sold, but they will upload its details to their website. This allows whoever it may concern—prospective clients or competitors—to see that the estate agent is active and has gained another success. And while they may not be fully marketing the property, the estate agent will display its details on the website and have particulars ready just in case the running sale falls through. What they should do, however, is indicate that a sale has been agreed by marking the property as sold subject to contract (SSTC).