Posted by: housingdabble | January 5, 2012

Zoopla and DPG spending big on brand

A main question we have regarding the merger of Zoopla and DPG has to be whether they will continue with what will become a considerable stable of brands or whether they will reduce them down to just two or three, or maybe even one brand – unlikely!

The reason this question has come back to mind today is the fact that both DPG and Zoopla are continuing to pump money into marketing their individual brands and whilst I wouldn’t expect anything less, I do wonder Read More…

Posted by: housingdabble | January 3, 2012

Foxtons Leads The Way With Online Lettings

Foxtons have long been recognised in the industry as innovators, to the point as I’ve written previously whereby agents have tried to seek some reflective glory from their brand. Their latest web site development again reinforces their position as a leading innovator within the estate agency sector.

Read More…

Posted by: housingdabble | November 14, 2011

Google algorithm change means agents need to get fresh

Google announced last week that they are rolling out a new search algorithm change that helps make the search results “fresher” and the big news is that its going to change the results for around 35% of all searches. This is significant compared to other recent changes such as Panda, which only impacted around 12% of searches conducted.

So not only are they going to be giving fresher results to users, but this means content providers that provide more regular and relevant copy will rise to the top.

What type of searches does it Read More…

Posted by: housingdabble | September 21, 2011

Zoopla sign another strategic partnership

In the ongoing battle between Zoopla and DPG (Findaproperty, Primelocation and Globrix), Zoopla have scored the latest points by signing a strategic partnership with News International, to exclusively power the property search

for and
Under the terms of the deal, Zoopla will exclusively take over powering the property search function for all three websites from Globrix and News International will begin promoting its new online property offering far more extensively via its leading national newspapers – The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun.

Globrix was once part-owned by News International in the days of Daniel Lee before Read More…

Posted by: housingdabble | June 15, 2011

Social Media: Letting Agent Facebook case study

Many agents now have a company Facebook page and as I’ve commented recently, there are still very few examples of agents getting any real traction in terms of fans. There are firms that are making some good progress, but as I’ve said before, just having a page for your business because that’s what you have been told you should be doing is pretty pointless. You need to research your audience and put together a strategy on why and how you can make it work for you and the tenants. It may not be right for every agent.

Whilst it’s not the only age group that are active on Facebook, some recent Zoopla research showed that 65% of UK tenants are under 35, and there is no doubt this is the biggest and most engaged demographic on Facebook. So if this group are your target audience it would stand to reason that you should interact with them there.

Here is a great case study of an agent that have done just that.

College and County, an award winning agent from Oxford, carried out some research into their student tenants online habits, asking them what is their preferred medium to communicate, and more specifically how they would like to communicate with them on property related issues. The resounding feedback was that they were much more active on Facebook than on email or other platforms.

In addition to their standard company fan page, College and County took the bold step to create a Facebook group for every property they let, allowing their tenants to communicate with them on property related matters such as deposit queries, end of tenancies and maintenance. Each time they introduce a new let they set up a group which the tenants become members of and they then lock the group to maintain privacy for the members and issues being discussed.

So far they have around 50 groups and they are finding them a real success. Obviously tenants can still communicate with them in other ways, but the majority are choosing to use the Facebook groups and this has led to an improved response time on property maintenance issues – reduced by 7.5 hours on average.


They have reduced the amount of dialogue they are having to have directly with tenants and the feedback from tenants has been great.

They have directed the happy tenants to review them on Google (why wouldn’t they!) and the positive feedback has led to them being the only agent locally with 5 star reviews.

They have also experimented with Facebook advertising in their bid to have the largest student population on Facebook for their area and have had some great results here too. Their current student target audience between the age of 20-24 yrs is 11,600. One of their adverts targeted to this group had 50,000 page impressions in less that 24hrs, meaning that on average the advert appeared in front of each of their target audience 4 times during that period.

Facebook is third biggest referrer to their main property web site and their next Facebook campaign is to get their student tenants to make a short video about the property that will then be used in the marketing of that property to the next batch of students to come through.

I’m sure you will agree that College and County are doing some really innovative things with their social media activity and more importantly, they are getting some very exciting results.



Posted by: housingdabble | June 13, 2011

Using social proof to influence vendors and landlords

Social proof, the principle whereby we view a behavior as correct in a situation to the degree that we see others performing it, is one of the 6 principles of persuasion identified by Dr. Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: Science and Practice.

The principles he identified are the key ways to make people say “yes” to your messaging and management and if you are involved in sales or marketing you have read the book.

On the principle of social proof, Cialdini and a team of colleagues ran an experiment to see which types of signs would most encourage hotel visitors to reuse towels. They tested four types of signs:
#1 Cited environmental reasons to encourage visitors to reuse their towels
#2 Said the hotel would donate a portion of end-of-year laundry savings to an environmental cause
#3 Said the hotel had already given a donation and asked: “Will you please join us?”
#4 Said the majority of guests reused their towels at least once during their stay

Percentage of those who reused towels per request:
Sign #1: 38%
Sign #2: 36%
Sign #3: 46%
Sign #4: 48%

When guests found out that most people who stayed in the same hotel reused their towels, they were more likely to comply with the request.

How can you use this principle in your Estate or Letting Agency marketing?

One great example of from Marsh and Parsons is the way they display their client feedback results.

The majority of estate agents nowadays monitor client feedback and proudly announce to potential clients that 90 something % of their clients would recommend them to their friends.

Marsh and Parsons however, despite having 99% of clients who would recommend them to a friend, advertise that 71% said they would recommend them. Here comes the principle of social proof – they also show very clearly that 28% of clients already have.

Not only does it present a very positive message to potential new clients, it also sends a message to the remaining 71% of existing clients that would recommend them saying “why haven’t you already recommended them? – This is the way that others are behaving”

I have no doubt that they maintain regular contact with all current and past clients and include this type of message and it is a great example of and Estate Agent using the 6 Cialdini principles to influence their clients.



Posted by: housingdabble | June 9, 2011

Location, Location, Location

If you asked 1,500 Landlords what had the biggest influence on their choice of Letting Agent, what would you expect the answer to be?

Range of services?

Personal recommendation?

Professional body membership?

Market share?

You may be surprised to hear that in our recent survey of over 1,500 landlords, they told us that the biggest influence on their choice of letting agent is Office Location.

At a time when there is an increasing opinion that Estate and Letting agents don’t need a physical high street location,  a whopping 83.3% of respondents to our latest survey said that office location most influenced which agents they invited to provide a rental appraisal.  They wanted to select from agents with a local office.

Despite our initial surprise, it does seem to make sense. Many landlords are don’t live particularly near to the properties they let, in fact only 44% of landlords told us they live within 15 mile of the property, and so if follows that they want to know the agent they trust to care for their property is on hand locally to care for any viewings an respond to tenant issues. Couple that with numerous cases over the last few years of agents going AWOL with client deposits and it begins to make sense that they want to know where you are and who you are.

The local office gives the landlord the chance to drop into the office and meet the team they are likely to be dealing with during the let and/or the ongoing management. 70% of landlords told us that they had visited their letting agents office before they appointed them which again emphasizes the level of comfort that a physical, local office provides to a landlord.

When you compare that figure to just 48% of home sellers who visit their estate agents office before appointing them (2010 Property Academy Home Moving Trends Survey) who are often disposing of their most valuable asset, it emphasizes just how important this is to landlords.

If you’d like to read more results from our 2011 Landlord survey then you can register to receive the executive summary here.



Posted by: housingdabble | April 15, 2011

Katy Perry is not an Estate Agent

If you have a Facebook account no doubt you will be as amazed as me if you go to Katy Perry’s fan page and every few second hit the refresh button. I monitored the growth over 90mins this morning and her likes increased by 2,000 – that’s around 1 new follower every three seconds! Read More…

Posted by: housingdabble | March 15, 2011

Have you got money down the back of your sofa?

It’s an ongoing challenge for any business to differentiate their services from that of the competitors. When it comes to residential property, the general perception from landlords and consumers is that “all agents are the same”, and no self-respecting agent wants to be tarred with that brush.

Whilst it’s not just about being seen to be different, it’s important to have different and new ideas that enable you to stand out – separators.

For example, an iPhone app is unlikely to offer any practical value to selling an individual vendors property, but they are still considered to be separators in some areas with the agents that have them using their “web savvy” perception as a way of differentiating themselves and winning the listing business.

Whether you wish to grow market share, drive more traffic to your web site, generate additional valuations, convert more instructions, raise fees, increase turnover or improve profitability, there are always new ideas out there to help you differentiate your business and services.

In a few weeks time we are holding a seminar, which explores profit generating marketing ideas currently being used as separators by leading estate and lettings agencies from around the world.

Such as:

Idea 12 – Love ****days

Traffic to your website and the major portals peaks at certain times of the week, every week. Find out when these times are and what you should be doing to ensure you convert this heightened interest into more enquiries.

Idea 17 – Take a long(ish) walk

Forget branded minis. There’s an even better way to generate exposure for your brand and sell a house or two on foot.

Idea 23 – Money down the back of the sofa

Several top agencies are making an extra £3,000 per property on top of their normal commissions for an additional service, which costs them nothing. Find out what it is and how you can do the same.

We guarantee that you will learn new ideas that you can incorporate into your business.

These ideas are not just theory, they work and they are helping agents to gain market share, grow their revenues and generate more profit.

You can book tickets here for just £99

Posted by: housingdabble | March 2, 2011

Can “Goodwill” hold a sale together?

The recent telegraph headline “Gazumping makes a comeback in London” may just be the standard article used after a positive new years start to the London market, but the reality is that the lack of real commitment from either party right through to exchange of contracts leaves the UK system wide open to this practice.

When talking to estate agents I’m told there has been an increase in the timescale from sale agreed to exchange of contracts and obviously a longer timescale increases the likelihood of sales falling apart.

Over the last few years there have been numerous debates over the problems with HIPs and the UK system in general, but what action can be taken by agents right now, without the need for government legislation, to improve the process for all parties?

One agent that has taken action is London agent Greene and Co, who have introduced their own Goodwill Charter. When you hear the results I think you’ll be surprised that more agents haven’t followed suit.

The Goodwill Charter, devised to encourage fair play, is legally binding and requires both buyer and seller to pay an agreed amount (usually £1k) into a pot to demonstrate their commitment to the deal. It’s not the amount of money that seals the commitment, but rather the fact that both parties have openly acknowledged the importance of seeing the deal through.

It has stopped Greene and Co’s abortive sales by half – yes half – and makes sellers and buyers honour fair play and decency by not allowing them to enter into sales processes they have no intention of honouring. They have also seen a significant reduction in the amount of Gazumping and have no doubt used it as a tool to attract vendors based on an increased certainty of the deal going through.

It’s a fairly simple solution, that increases the number of sales that complete and I think it shows that we can find ways of improving the process without having to rely on the government to act – Hat’s off to Greene and Co.

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