“The game is afoot!”
The first estate agent was a huge advocate of technology. After booking the valuation via their website, I discovered they also had an instant online valuation tool. A few clicks and an algorithm uses local sale prices and Land Registry details to calculate a likely value (together with an upper and lower bracket for good measure).
Then, ahead of the in-person valuation, I received a phone call, several texts and several emails confirming the appointment. And I got an invite to register for an online portal where my valuation report would appear together with viewing dates, buyer feedback, offers and the like.
During the valuation, I was also asked if I was on WhatsApp. They use it for something or another as phone, text and email – oh, and the portal – are clearly not sufficient.
More is more, it would seem.
Down to numbers and, taking everything into consideration, a figure was floated. This would be confirmed later… look out for an email (or was it a text?) and login to the portal to check it out.
An email containing a copy of the report duly arrived (in my spam folder, as it was sent from a different address than earlier correspondence).
The email mentioned that while I could also login to the portal, the report there was a just a basic one, so download the attached version for the full monty.
The valuation turned out to be pretty much what we expected… yet around 30% less than what their online tool told me.
Perhaps the online valuations are more accurate for other people. But in providing a wildly different figure to the human estate agent, it further undermined our impression of the agency in question.
“You see but you do not observe”
The agent at the other extreme was somewhat different.
Appointment booked and confirmed by email. Agent turns up, values the house, and emails a copy of the valuation report. Simple.
What really cemented the difference was not the absence of a bewildering mix of communication methods, but their answer to one question.
We asked each on what we could change or improve ahead of listing our house.
Agent one: “Nothing.”
Agent two, without pausing for thought or missing a beat: “Your neighbours have some rubbish and boxes on their drive – it would be good to ask them to clear it away.”
Agent two had done more than count rooms and ponder prices. He had looked beyond the four walls, the facts and the figures, and considered our house through the eyes of a prospective buyer.
Empty Amazon boxes and overflowing wheelie bins on a neighbour’s drive would be one of the first things noticed by someone arriving for a viewing.
Like Sherlock Holmes, this agent had not just seen but observed – something only a human, not an AI or an algorithm, could do.
Unlike the other two agents, his mind had gone beyond what would simply make our house marketable (such as its decor) and considered what else matters, including the context in which prospective buyers will experience it.
‘Sherlock Homes’ thought from the outside in, like a buyer. Not from the inside out, like a seller.
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”
All of this underlined the challenges and opportunities faced by many businesses including some of my own clients.
People are often bamboozled or overwhelmed by all of the marketing channels available today and are struggling to keep up. “We should be doing more on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, shouldn’t we?! Don’t we need to get into Snapchat, Clubhouse and TikTok too?”.
The deceptively obvious answer in every instance is almost certainly no – or at least why?!
You want to do this to achieve what and for whom? Where do your clients and prospects actually hang out? In all these places or just one or two? Or perhaps somewhere else that is real, not virtual? Will they welcome your presence there? And are you heading there to offer help and value, or just to sell?
Stop. Take a step back.
Care about each client or prospect as an individual (or type of individual). Observe and consider what will be important in their situation.
Avoid the pitfall of seeming omnipresent, overbearing and overeager. Instead, be personal, personable and, above all, valuable.
Look beyond the usual four walls and clear up the crap on the neighbouring driveway that might scupper a sale (or, in pointing it out, win you the business).