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How to survive today’s increasingly competitive and online property marketplace

Our guest columnist and agent Paul Cooney reveals how his company has thrived despite both the online threat and swanky corporate competitors with big budgets.

Paul Cooney

The increasingly competitive property marketplace is on every agent’s mind.

We all know seismic shifts are happening right under our feet, right now – from game changing proptech launches and the increasing importance of your online listings to legislation reform and the impact of the Brexit negotiations.

The days of opening our doors and waiting for buyers to throw their money at us are done.

Agents who are brave enough to ride the shifting tides will fast track themselves to the top. Swim against them, and you’ll suffer a very different fate.

The success of the housing market underpins confidence in the economy and as such I see it as our responsibility to work harder and smarter than ever, so we can keep it afloat.

We can continue to blame the adversarial nature of the current property market for our shortcomings or we can adapt.

There will always be a market leader in your neighbourhood – and it should be you. Horton and Garton sell more properties across the pricey West London postcodes of W4, W6 and W12 than any other estate agency.

We don’t spend the most money on advertising and it isn’t dumb luck. We work harder and smarter than our competition by offering more than our rivals. What do you need to do to set yourself apart from your rival next door?  The points below are not an exhaustive list, but they’re a solid foundation.

Here’s how we did it.

Be a problem solver and adviser

Have a genuine command of the sales process and offer this expertise to anyone who needs it – not just your clients. It’s getting harder, not easier, to sell properties and complex chains are now the norm.

Not every agent can handle the intricacies of the sales process, but if you can, put it out there in the public domain.

Let your neighbourhood know what you know. You can bleat on about how you’re the ‘local expert’ but it’s better to own that title by showcasing your ability whenever possible.

Be knowledgeable

Homeowners living in million-pound properties aren’t daft. Chiswickians, for example, know when a piece of generic information has been disseminated from head office in Guildford.

It’s clicked through or thrown in the bin. Homeowners living in the west side of the neighbourhood don’t necessarily care about what’s happening on the east side – even if there are only a few streets in between. They care about their road. Tell them what they want to know.

Sweeping generalities about the property market won’t cut it anymore.

Engage with your community

For most agencies, this is a tick box exercise. There is a finite amount of money that comes down from head office to be spent on charitable or community outreach.

Make 2018 different. Spend the extra money and time needed to do more than ever before within and for your local neighbourhood. Be present and accounted for, wearing a smile. A poet once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Be available

I valued a house last night at 9pm as mummy and daddy wanted to ensure the children were asleep before sitting down for a cup of tea with me.
Clocking in at 9am and out at 6pm is no longer an option. ‘The extra mile’ isn’t an urban legend – walk it and from that first meeting you will have differentiated yourself from the competition.

Paul Cooney MNAEA is Director of Chiswick Sales at Horton and Garton Estate Agency


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