How data can help bridge the gap between clients and estate agents

How data can help bridge the gap between clients and estate agents

No matter your reason for venturing on to the property market, whether it is buying, selling, renting or letting, the whole process often evokes a range of emotions. Excitement, joy, stress and doubt are just some of the feelings we experience. After all, they say that moving home is the second most stressful event behind a family member dying.

While that theory may be a tad dramatic, by having all the important information to hand when involved in buying or selling a property, you can minimise the stress levels. It is also vital to make sure that you are working with an agent who not only understands the housing market, but lives and breathes it too.

More data, please

We are seeing a greater emphasis placed on data when it comes to buying and selling homes. In a market where the margins are slim, you can’t argue with the facts. It is the numbers that are helping vendors and buyers make better, more informed decisions.

Consumers are now more clued up, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed in the industry. A quick glance at Zoopla’s latest marketing campaign, and more specifically their television advert, shows a house hunter who already has all the facts before he’s even gone to the viewing, stating that running costs were precisely 12% cheaper in the property he is looking at compared with the previous one he visited.

Zoopla has been smart, managing to conceptualise the importance of data into a fun TV advert. They have noted that people searching the market are more knowledgeable, with an expectancy that agents can feed them more extensive information, rather than just offering competitive percentages on commission. Having all the facts and figures regarding the local market is no longer beneficial; it is expected.

The sellers’ point of view

Understanding a seller’s needs when they put their property on the market isn’t rocket science: they want to attain the best price available. However, that doesn’t mean that they are going to instruct with an agent who promises the highest value but has little foundation behind their reasoning. They will aim to instruct someone who can confidently quote a price that satisfies the seller and offers a realistic reflection of the market where the property is located.

Knowing that an agent will be able to reel off facts about how similar homes in the area have sold over the last 12 months will give sellers more confidence. Hearing them talk about how the demographic in the area will affect the buying habits of people potentially viewing a house helps to make up many of the small details that paint a bigger picture.

The buyers’ point of view

Those searching for a new property are also becoming more dependent on stats and data to help them make what is essentially one of the biggest decisions of their lives. Unless you have unearthed several pots of gold, the financial burden that comes with purchasing a home makes it such a big decision, any extra information to contribute to making the process easier is most welcome.

People have always looked at factors like square footage, proximity to schools and travel, and whether a property has a garage/outside space when buying a home. But if they are accurately informed on how these elements truly affect house prices – how much does property value increase the closer it gets to a transport station; what is each square foot actually worth – they will feel more comfortable making their decision.

There is also a new crop of requirements from house hunters springing up. Things like local broadband speeds and mobile coverage are now on people’s minds as they look for suitable property. While most of this information is available for the buyer to source themselves, they will feel more at ease if agents can tell them exactly what they need to know regarding these topics.

Letting and renting

You could argue that there is even more of an emphasis on agents to make sure landlords and tenants are equipped with as much information as possible. A lettings agent acquiring the services of a landlord will aim to build a strong relationship with them that lasts for at least the term of the rental contract, hopefully going on to retain them for a longer period.

A landlord letting their property will want to know they can feel comfortable in the knowledge that the agent has done the best possible job – especially if they are using the agency’s management service. Landlords who believe they are accurately informed about the history of other rental properties in the area, realistic yield percentages, and the average length of void periods will feel more confident when instructing.

Even smaller details like the number of furnished properties let compared to unfinished, or the most popular floor to live on in an apartment block, will be welcome statistics that can be the difference maker for instructing an agent.

Better data for a better future

At times there can be an uneasy relationship between clients and estate agents. Some of the preconceptions are unfair, but some are also closer to the truth than many agents would like to admit, at least publicly. The best way an agent can dispel some of those stereotypes and help to build a positive relationship with their client is by adding value right from the start. Providing detailed statistics and data is one of the ways to do that.

Blog by David Butler, ResiAnalytics, www.resianalytics.com

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