‘What are your fees?’ .. is this the worst question to be asked as an agent?

For letting and estate agents the number one question that strikes fear, terror and trepidation into their heart is, “What are your fees?” Especially when the punter (aka Mr Landlord of Mrs vendor) waltz’s into your offices before you’ve established any sort of relationship with the said landlord or any sort of value of what you have to offer as a letting agent. It’s not nice because you are being asked too early and most certainly out of context. 

However, if you get it wrong, you can wave goodbye to being his/her letting/estate agent for good.

Well you could quote say a random fee, by saying, ‘Our fees are 9.56% Mr Landlord’. Hell, you could even say what I heard one agent say once, ‘….all you landlords care about these days is fee, fee, fee’, hey you even act like you have never heard that question before, ‘What are your fee’s, no one has asked that before (cue scratching of the head with a slight tilt of the head).

Ok, lets be honest, these are rubbish answers. Now let me share some examples I have used, seen used by others or come across in my years working at the coal face. They work just as well in estate agency (that’s where I got most of them from in fact). My favourite retort to that question is, ‘Are you looking for the cheapest agent?’ or if you were really confident, ‘Are you looking for the cheapest agent, because if you are, I am not your man?

Others I overheard colleagues say, ‘It’s 20% until I know what service you’re wanting. Can we spend a few minutes narrowing that down to help you lower the fee?’

Here are some more that come across over the years, with a rating afterwards!

‘Depends if you want the BMW version, the Ford version, or the Skoda Mr Landlord?’ (COCKY)

‘I have a feeling that if I quote a random fee right now, I’ll be dead in the water. Do you mind if I ask you some questions to get a better idea of what you want from your agent? Then the numbers we talk about will be specific to you and your property’ (CONFIDENT BORDERING REASONABLY COCKY)

‘A lot Mr landlord/houseseller. Why do you ask?’ (SCARILY COCKY)

‘I’ll answer your question in a moment but to give you a more accurate answer, may I ask you three questions first?’ (SOFT)

‘Well, the friends and family rate might apply but we’re not friends yet – do you mind if I ….’ (CHEEKY BUT NOT BAD)

‘Let us chat about what you’re trying to accomplish first Mr Landlord / Mrs Houseseller and then we’ll work out some fee options based on that.’ (SOFT)

‘Just like you need to make an educated decision about which letting agent to use, I need to give you an educated answer to your fee question. And I’m feeling pretty dumb right now, since we only just started talking, so do you mind if we have a five minute conversation about your you and your property? After that, I’ll have a much better idea of what you’re after and some different ways we can help’. (LONG WINDED BUT NICE)

‘Sounds like fee is the most important factor to you Mr landlord/houseseller. In my experience, everything is expensive until you need it. Can we talk about what you need and then work our way to the pricing options based on that?’ (REASONABLE)

‘Until I have a better idea of what you want – and whether or not we can even help – any number I give you is going to be too high. Would it be OK if we spend a few minutes discussing why you called? Then if we can help, I’ll get you the fee options you need. And if we can’t, I’ll refer you to some other great letting agents that may be able to help. Fair enough?’ (REASONABLE)

… for more stuff like this, you can always visit my blog on how to get more business as an agent.

Christopher Watkin

I teach, guide, support, mentor, consult, counsel, partner many hundreds of UK Estate and Letting Agents in their quest to grow their estate and lettings agencies business. Old school techniques of touting, landlords wanted leaflets, ring us for a free valuation, we have sold this in your street leaflets don't work anymore. There are too many competitor agents .. meaning cheap fees are epidemic, overvaluing is almost a norm to get the stock and don’t even mention about the online/hybrid threat. So a few years ago, I set about looking around the UK and spotted that certain agents (not many mind you) in certain towns were still seen as the ‘go to person on property’, the person the newspaper editor rang up every week for a comment and I looked at what they did and they were doing some thing quite remarkable…. Only one thing but they were doing it so well .. and reaping the reward in terms of decent listings and decent fees, happy staff, decent sales pipeline and exchange income, managed lettings portfolios in the many hundreds .. but more importantly, they really enjoyed the job… they enjoyed getting up in the morning and people looked up to them Over 400 agents around the UK are on a mission to change the way our Estate and Lettings agency profession is perceived and looked upon, doing it town by town, city by city. I guide these 400 agents, teach them, mentor them and support them to be seen in a different light, to be seen as the ‘go to person for property’, actually be the ‘local property expert’ and prove it. Christopher Watkin 07950 147 572 christopher@christopherwatkin.co.uk

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