Posted by: housingdabble | February 1, 2011

What do home sellers really think and do?

Much of the decisions taken by Estate Agents are done using our gut – we rely on it pretty heavily to shape our decisions and inevitably sometimes it directs us to make the right decision, other times it doesn’t.

That’s one of the reasons why fours years back we started to carry out the annual Property Academy Home Moving Trends survey. So that rather than rely on our gut, we could gain accurate insight into the actions and decision making process of people that are moving home, enabling us to help estate agents to respond accordingly.

The survey asked a series of 21 questions covering the property they were selling, their choice of agent and their property search activity. The survey received over 1,600 responses from across the UK and from sellers using a range of over 100 different estate agents, ensuring the data could be relied upon as being statistically valid.

There were three key findings from the survey which I will review in this post:

  • What is the key factor in a vendors choice of agent
  • What % of home sellers would recommend their estate agent to a friend
  • How often do people move

We lost it because the other agent was cheaper!

In our industry we have a whole range of estate agency fees and pricing structures, both locally and nationally, so it is always interesting to ask home movers what role fees played in their final choice of agent they would instruct to sell their property. We asked the question:

“Which of these statements best reflects how you decided your final choice of agent to sell your property”

The research shows that home movers made their final decision based on the agent that gave them more reason to trust them, which is likely built through a number of different actions. Whilst its not true to say that this is the only factor influencing the home owners final decision, it is significant when compared with just 6.5% who said the overriding factor was the agent who offered the cheapest fee and just 3.7% who selected the agent who suggested the highest selling price.

The next question then went on to probe the issue of fees further by asking;

“Which of these describes how you made your financial decision to appoint your agent”

The responses here again back up the argument against agents needing to offer cheap fees, with 87% of home movers not being primarily influenced by cheap fees in their final decision.

Estate agents should consider this evidence when defining their fee structure and working with their teams to ensure that their fee objectives are met.

Recommend a friend

Some very positive results came from the question asking;

“Based on your experience to date, would you recommend your estate agent to a friend”

Despite the negative press generally aimed at estate agents, 84% of respondents said they would be happy to recommend their estate agent to a friend.

This raises the question of how many estate agents take the opportunity to seek out these recommendations. Having identified these potential advocates is there then a system in place to measure the satisfaction levels of their clients and to maximize the opportunities from those that are prepared to recommend you.

Probing further on the subject of customer service, the question was asked;

“How would you rate the service you’ve received from your agent in the following areas”

Having identified the area of communication as the key area for improvement, the responses again showed a very high overall level of satisfaction from the service levels estate agents provide.

30% of homes are lived in for four years or less

When asked:

“How many years have you owned the property that you are selling”

30% of respondents indicated they had lived in their home for four years or less with 20% having lived there for three years or less.

This my come as a surprise to you to hear there are such a large proportion of people moving home, having only been in their properties for a relatively short period of time. This begs the question of how many agents maintain regular contact with previous sellers as the short term reward are evidently there for agents that can continue to nurture these relationships. The answer is that very few agents have one and yet are still surprised when they drive by a previous clients home to see a for-sale board outside from another agent.

In light of this information, agents should put a system in place to provide timely and relevant updates to past customers with a view to maintaining ongoing contact with them. These programs should include a range of telephone, email and postal communications, which fulfill customer relationship management and also continue to demonstrate local knowledge and thus build credibility for repeat business and referrals.


Summary

It’s no surprise that trust and communication are two key areas customers are focused on. Home movers want to know that they can trust the person/company that is likely handling the sale of their most valuable possession and is helping them through one of the most stressful events in their lives.

If agents can effectively demonstrate that they can be trusted, both in their marketing and any early contact with potential clients, they are more likely to be given the opportunity to act on that sellers behalf. Then agents also need to walk the walk, particularly in a climate where all vendors needs to sell will not be met immediately, which brings the importance of good communication skills to the fore.

The home moving trends survey also provided a number of additional insights into areas such as

  • Lifestyle V’s life stage movers
  • Number of agents asked to value a property – 1 in 5 a one horse race
  • Benefit of traditional communications and high street offices
  • Importance and ‘take up’ rates for additional services
  • Property portal and property search habits

To receive more details on these areas or to discuss how you could be involved on working with the Property Academy, please contact me on 07787 120687 or ben@propertyacademy.o.uk


Responses

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Ben Harris, Martin Smith. Martin Smith said: RT @housingdabble: What do home sellers really think and do? http://prop.ac/dPSwZz #estateagents #property […]


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