As Britain moves out of official lockdown and into the recovery phase post-covid, the property market nationwide has had to adapt.
Business Matters speaks to Jamie Rolls, Residential Sales and Lettings Director of regional estate agents Anglotown, about the impact of covid on their business and the property market in general at this time.
Would you say that the industry is now in recovery despite the country’s general economic state?
So far yes. I think that lockdown has made a lot of people re-assess their
I think that providing banks are still lending money, people will always buy property. We’ve been overrun with enquiries since some of the bans were lifted because I think lockdown has made a lot of people question where they live. People who haven’t got gardens or balconies are wanting to sell and move and a lot of people want walking access to nature or to live by the sea just in case a second wave of the virus occurs and restrictions go in place again.
What steps have you taken to adapt during and post covid?
Covid has been the biggest test our business has known to date. We knew that if we were to survive we needed to react very quickly to the news of a lockdown. Myself and the other two partners sat down and discussed what we wanted to achieve and then developed a strategy for how best to implement the plan. We wanted our staff to remain with us long term so in the short term we furloughed some members and topped up the 80% government funding with 20% to ensure they had 100% of their wages every month. We wanted to reassure our staff immediately that they would be looked after as the stress of the uncertainty could have been bad for their mental health.
Then we personally called and checked in with all of our rental tenants and landlords to discuss all options available to them. We wanted to make sure that where possible people knew that they were supported.
A lot of long days …
Yes particularly running at a 50% work force. To adhere to the social distancing rules we were creating schedules of who needed specific information at certain times to ensure there was only ever one person in the office.
So the most important element presiding through the lockdown and moving forwards for you is communication.
Yes and caring. I think if you have those two elements you’ll make sure you’re listening to your staff and customers to ensure everybody’s needs are met and if you care then you’re going to take extra time to help them.
Has your industry been affected by online ‘sell it yourself’ companies?
We haven’t seen a massive knock on effect since those types of websites came to the marketplace and I think that’s largely due to their client base being very different to ours.
Well when it comes to selling your personal property people fall into one of two categories – they either want to co-ordinate the images and sale themselves or they want to hand it over to an expert who knows what the state of the property market is on any given road and sell it accordingly. An agent will be proactive and create opportunities. If they’re good and have been established for a while they will also have a network of investors and people primed to sell to. Very often leading to properties not even being placed on the market or not being visible for very long.
So really solidify your USPs to your local community …
Yes, be tenacious and revamp your service until you feel certain and proud to deliver it. As an agent you should know how to advise clients on whether or not a property needs renovation before selling and work out how to do so in a cost effective way for your clients. You must be transparent about all of your fees, know how to price properties at just the right price point.
What advice would you give to fellow agents who may have had their business seriously uprooted during the past four months?
Make your business as cohesive as possible – some people love moving and find it exciting, however if people associate it with vast amounts of stress then you need to build your business to ease that worry and take stress away. Create links with interior designers, local tradesmen for upkeep and repairs. Ensure that people in your proximity know that you’re there and trading. Good local knowledge is essential but the most crucial element of all is communication – both with your team and your audience. People want everything instantly now so get back to people as quickly as possible. Set up systems for dealing with inquiries as they happen as opposed to allocating time at the end of each day.
Do you think having links with London is beneficial?
Yes, I think wherever your business is based, ensure that you build good links with property teams in London, so the moment they are asked about sourcing a property for a client whether it be for relocating or to have as a weekend home.
I also think taking pride in knowing your local area and staying abreast of council changes to systems and land is essential. You can be the first to jump on board with investment opportunities then. There are so many opportunities for growth within the property world and providing a brilliant service can be expanded on. It takes pride, effort and tenacity, but that’s the same regardless of any business.