HIGH STREET AGENT OR ONLINE AGENT… HOW ABOUT THE BEST OF BOTH?

Having listened to many debates about high street agents versus online agents, we could appreciate the arguments being raised for and against for both.  High street agents are still doing well and online estate agencies seem to be acquiring their own share of the market, proving to us there was a place for both types of business.

Whilst high street agents will claim that they have prominence in a town to display properties in windows and have somewhere to meet and greet clients to do business, online agents will argue that they can offer the core side of the business without the significant overheads therefore they are able to reduce their fees and pass that saving onto their clients.

Having looked at the number of properties online agents were generating in the local vicinity it dawned on us that the stock numbers to staff ratio meant that they could not possibly be undertaking all the viewings.  This made us think more about WHY a vendor chooses a particular agent and putting a proven track record aside, we felt it was either down to fees or service.

For those instructing High Street agents, it would appear that the service provided was more relevant than the fee itself. They were content to pay more for a thorough service which included accompanied viewings and a place to visit the agent to discuss their property and marketing needs, have their properties displayed in shop front windows and have an agent with additional foot fall traffic. For these clients, the service itself is more important than discounted fees.

For those instructing online agents, we felt the clients were more fee driven. The “best deal” is primary to their needs and wants and combine that with a more confident vendor, online agents obviously have great appeal.

This got us thinking, what if we were able to offer BOTH? What if we continued with our traditional side of the business but also had a facility for clients to be more involved if they chose to be at a flat fee rate? And so our “Be Your Own Agent” service was born!

We appreciate that times are changing and whilst a lot of people will still want to use the traditional estate agent and their services, others may feel more confident in being more involved in the sale of their property, whilst making a significant saving at the same time. Here at Kemp & Co we are now able to offer everyone a choice in service, tailor made to suit the individual and their circumstances. We offer bespoke marketing at competitive commission rates alongside our new Be Your Own Agent service at a low fixed rate upfront fee – clients now have a choice!

So, having read all of the above, other agents are asking how do we make a profit, are we not “cheapening” our existing services? The answer is simple – far from it. We still have our core estate agency and letting services, charged at usual commission rates. The Be Your Own Agent service is not for everyone, you have to be confident in dealing with clients yourself, be located close to the property you are selling and have the time to do so.  We are also sandwiched between a few towns and are now getting invited out to properties where we would not have gone before,  as previously not seen as a dominant agent in those towns and not being on the doorstep so to speak.  So in fact, we are increasing our business and we still have, and will always continue to have, a large client base that will always put the importance of service before fees.

The wonderful aspect about the Be Your Own Agent product for us as a company is that we only visit the property once, to give marketing advice, take full details and photographs which already reduce the overheads considerably; which in turn allows us more time to concentrate on selling the properties.  The fee we take is paid in advance, it covers the marketing costs and we also make a profit which we can then concentrate on financing our other services allowing us to provide innovating marketing tools such as audio/visual tours, quality brochures and time for social media marketing as standard, ensuring that our commission paying clients get the best marketing resources without paying any upfront fees.  Our commission paying clients get better value for money and our online clients get a chance to sell their own property for thousands less than it might ordinarily cost them.

Once registered, Online clients get a unique password which enables them to log into their own accounts. From there they can then drop products into their “cart”, pay using the secure payment system and be in control of their own marketing. They can order more brochures, newspaper and magazine advertising or upgrade to premium listings on the main property portals.  They get all the tools they need to enable them to sell their own property, if they choose this product and then feel they are out of their depth they can upgrade at any time to a commission based fee whereby their initial fee will be deducted upon completion of the sale.

In addition we gain more enquiries; this expands our client base increasing the chances of selling our other properties and gain more board presence to guide clients in our general business direction. Basically, with the Be Your Own Agent product we can cover pretty much anywhere in the County and cross over the borders into Somerset, Devon, Wiltshire and Hampshire which are all within easy reach! The costs of the redevelopment of the website have already been covered by the sales already generated on the trials of this product, from properties we would have not listed without having it.  We lose nothing by launching this product but have everything to gain – as do our more confident vendors and the community. We have been able to sponsor more local causes and have now also launched a regular prize charity draw where local people can nominate their favourite charity, local organization or club to win.

The website will be live shortly, in the meantime the services are fully up and running and we already have a number of very happy clients using the product, the first clients went under offer within 2 weeks of being on the market.

We hope this goes some way to explain how this exciting new product works for us and our clients, it’s really no different to our “Pay as You Go” Lettings Services which we introduced some time back which has had a huge impact on our success by not locking Landlords into services they did not necessarily need. We have recently had to expand to larger premises whilst other agents have sadly become victims of the recession and I strongly believe one of the reasons that we have been able not only to survive, but to employ year on year, is down to looking at new ways of innovative marketing and offering the very best of choices and services to our clients.

To find out more about our new upfront, fixed fee Be Your Own Agent product, give us a call on 01305 251800, we’d love to hear from you!

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