How to get buyers and landlords queuing outside your door.

Just imagine the scene. Your team are poised behind their desks. At 9am on the dot, you open you branch door to a queue of people stretching down the street and around the corner. Perhaps 20, 30 even 40 eager buyers are waiting to willingly talk to you and dip their hands in their pockets. Although it seems far fetched, this scene is actually based on a true story – one that relates to off plan sales, property investors and a mighty fine opportunity for property managers.

Only recently a 41-storey block of apartments near Canary Wharf in East London was offered to the market on an off plan basis. It took just four hours for 208 properties worth £140 million to sell, even though work on the development hadn’t even started. One person was in the 150-strong queue 36 hours before the launch officially opened, with domestic and international buyers from across Europe, Asia and the Middle East jostling for the for the apartments. There are no details yet on just how many buyers were property investors but my bet is more than a fair few.

And there lies the opportunity. New build homes – especially those being sold off plan – appeal to property investors as they offer low maintenance living, structural defect warranties and price appreciation prospects between reservation and completion. Many developers seek an estate agent partner at the off plan sales stage of proceedings as they lack the database and local area information needed to secure quick sales. Surely more agents should actively court this type of new business?

If you are a dual agency with sales and lettings, pursuing off plan new build business makes sense. Interest among buyers will be high, so sales should flow naturally, and there’s a great opportunity to offer your full lettings and property management service to investor purchasers – even if it’s via white label outsourcing. Making yourself attractive to developers and house builders is crucial, and points to consider before you make enquiries include:

  • Your proximity to the planned development in respect of taking potential purchasers to the site
  • Your ability to create a mini marketing suite dedicated to off plan sales in your office
  • Your staff levels – whether you could offer a negotiator to work at any on-site sales suite
  • The strength of your database of qualified buyers – both owner occupiers and investors
  • Your marketing prowess in term of being able to design and print brochures, create micro sites, provide a PR service and position the development favourable with the property portals

The rate of house building is far off the pace the Government desire and the emergency Budget saw new powers announced to release more brownfield land with less red tape. Plus there’s the Build to Rent initiative, so more new homes are in the pipeline. Maybe now is the time to make some house builder friends?

* Simon Duce is the Managing Director of ARPM Outsourced Lettings Support


Simon Duce is the Founder and Managing Director of ARPM Outsourced Lettings Support - a business designed to help small and start-up letting agents/property managers offer a full suite of property management and tenancy administration services through outsourcing.

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