Estate agents have been enjoying a mini-boom in the housing market since the end of the first lockdown in May. There are more properties marked as “sold” than there are new homes coming on to the market. This month, house prices hit a record high for the fourth month in a row. All of which is great news for estate agents.
But property experts are predicting a downturn in England’s housing market in 2021. Rising unemployment, stricter lending criteria and the end of the stamp duty holiday on 31 March 2021 could all contribute to a drop in demand. The end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December is likely to add to the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In this blog, our experts share their tips for how estate agents can thrive during the pandemic and beyond.
Make Use of Digital Tools
COVID-19 has transformed the way we all live and work. Businesses have had to adapt to a “new normal” and the property sector is no different. Agencies need to take advantage of the digital tools available to provide a safe and efficient way to keep business flowing.
Estate agents around the world are starting to use 3D viewings to keep sales up during the pandemic. Virtual tours are the perfect solution to the problem of buyer and seller reluctance to participate in face-to-face viewings. One Hong Kong agency described the technology as “life to us” and explained that it had allowed them to “survive and stay competitive”. In the UK, some agencies have started using virtual-reality headsets to help buyers view properties without travelling or entering the seller’s home. The buyer uses hand controls to move around the property. They can look up and around just as they could if they were viewing in person — it’s a totally immersive experience. Many developers who sell off-plan are factoring such technology into their budgets from the start as it allows them to showcase properties that have yet to be built. Although only eight per cent of Zoopla’s listings currently include a virtual tour, this feature is likely to become more common as the pandemic continues to affect our daily lives.
Virtual-reality technology also saves estate agents and their clients time. A buyer can manage their viewing independently from home and complete the process in five or ten minutes. A “traditional” viewing requires the estate agent and buyer to travel to the property and, according to a recent survey, 35 per cent of people who go on to buy a property spend more than two hours viewing it.
Be a Proactive Problem Solver
As unemployment levels rise and the availability of low-deposit mortgages continues to diminish, the number of failed sales and property chain collapses is set to increase in 2021. Successful estate agents work hard to build good relationships with their clients and maintain regular contact with them. This means that they are the first to know of any problems that arise with a house sale or purchase. A failed sale means lost commission and an unhappy customer, both of which are bad for business.
To thrive in a post-COVID property market, estate agents need to be quick to respond to problems and proactive about providing solutions. By partnering with a specialist chain repair provider, the agent can step in and save the day by fixing common property chain problems and preventing the chain collapsing. It’s a win-win situation — the agency enjoys accelerated sales and a boost to profits, and the customer receives exceptional service. If your client encounters problems — for example, their buyer pulls out of the sale — HBB Solutions has the funds to buy their property fast. As a result, the chain remains intact and your client doesn’t lose the dream home they were planning to buy. Contact us to find out more about how our chain repair service works. We can take care of everything, meaning no hassle or stress for you, just great results.
Adopt a Data-Led Business Model
Real-time analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies can be used to generate invaluable insights for estate agents that will aid lead generation and boost sales. By monitoring and analysing email enquiries, common search terms and the volume of traffic to the agency’s website, agents can gain a better understanding of the properties, locations and features that are most popular with buyers.
Online analytics allow agents to see where people spend the most time on the company website, what content they engage with and which pages are most likely to result in an enquiry or the visitor leaving the site. Agents can use this knowledge to personalise marketing and target the clients who are most likely to convert into sales. If scores of visitors search for “4-bed, detached, Nottingham” and there are no properties matching this on the website, the agent knows how best to expand their portfolio. If lots of people are viewing a property listing but none are clicking the “make an enquiry” or “book a viewing” button, think about why that might be — is the property description missing important information? Is the contact form too long? Is it unclear that virtual viewings are available?
Agents who fail to use the data at their fingertips are missing a trick. If sales slow down and the pool of potential clients diminishes in the coming months, it will be agencies that go the extra mile — offering a personalised service, providing virtual tours — that thrive.
If predictions of a downturn in the housing market next year prove correct, estate agents can continue to thrive by adapting to changes in demand and customer needs. Agencies need to turn their existing business models on their head and embrace new partnerships and technologies to deliver exceptional customer service and keep profits riding high.
HBB Solutions works with hundreds of estate agencies across the UK, from national companies to small businesses. We will work with you to provide the service you and your customers need. Avoid the hassle, stress and expense of failed sales and broken property chains by partnering with us.