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Don’t be hasty in ditching your high street office

Several agents have asked me whether they should consider ditching their high street offices and move to an out of town location or serviced offices, as recently suggested by Ben Taylor, Managing Director of Keller Williams UK.

In my view, there are six compelling reasons why agents should retain a high street presence.

Firstly however, let’s take a look at why the Keller Williams’ office concept is possibly better suited to where it originates, the USA, than here (And by the way I’m a fan of KW!). 

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Property Natter: what impact has Google had on the property market?

Google celebrated its 20th birthday last month. Yes, it might be hard to recall a time when it wasn’t integral in our lives, but the tech giant only officially entered the world in September 1998 when two Stanford PhD students - Larry Page and Sergey Brin – launched the search engine that would change the world as we know it.

From humble beginnings in a Stanford dorm, it is now a global company worth nearly a trillion dollars and used in 190 countries around the world. It’s famous for its Google Doodles, multi-coloured logo and global reach, and is the mother, brother, sister, father and grandparents of all search engines. It’s much more than just a search engine now, but that is still what most people associate the name with – and “Google it” and “I’ve just Googled” have become very common phrases as internet usage has soared.

What impact has it had on property, though? And how far have search engines come since the late 1990s?

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Why Facebook’s property listings are a bigger threat to portals than agents

When Facebook first announced it would be entering the property listings market a few weeks ago it sent shockwaves across the industry.

How dominant a force would it become? Would it eventually wipe out estate agents altogether? How would that pan out for portals? The answer is, of course, well we’ll have to wait and see. 

However, if Facebook was going to dominate the property listings market wouldn’t it have done so organically already?

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The link between Brexit and the online agent debate

From where I’m standing there’s a lot in common between the debate between online and traditional agents, and the argument over Brexit.

The most obvious similarity is the divisiveness caused by both debates, and the fact that there seems - even after years of discussion - little common ground. 

Just as Brexiteers brand any negative assessments about the effects of leaving the EU as Project Fear (even when some of those assessments have been drawn up by depart-ments run by Brexit-backing ministers), so Remainers cling to the possibility that another vote of some kind will inevitably produce a different result as the public come-to-their-senses/realise-their-errors/accept-the-view-of-their-betters (delete as applicable). 

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Increased Trading Standards budget should focus on CPRs compliance

You will perhaps have seen recently that the Government has decided to boost funding to the regulator, the National Trading Standards (NTS) Estate Agency Team – a move which we at the Conveyancing Association (CA) have been lobbying for over the last couple of years. 

The increase to £500k a year may not seem like a market-changing figure – and I have already encountered some scepticism amongst agents in terms of what it will actually mean and/or achieve – but in my view it will help that team find more of those in the marketplace who are not meeting their responsibilities and who are not acting in their customer’s interests. 

Our research amongst consumers has revealed a significant lack of compliance with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs), mostly in the form of the provision of upfront information being delivered to potential home purchasers. 

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A five-point plan for buying a new agency website

Having delivered over 1,800 websites for estate agents over the last 15 years, I have come to recognise one major common problem that most property professionals struggle with. And that’s that they don’t know how to properly assess possible website suppliers and their offerings. 

In many ways this is understandable. The very great majority of agents don’t come to work because they are good at IT. They come to work because they are good at agency. 

But you can’t hide from IT. It’s a fundamental part of your business – and of your competitors’, too. So, you have to be able to buy it well and use it well to derive the best competitive advantage from your investment. 

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Property Natter – legislation, legislation, legislation

Landlords and letting agents might feel they’ve taken a bit of a battering from the government in recent years – and with some justification. Not only have we seen changes to stamp duty and mortgage interest tax relief, but also the proposed upcoming ban on letting agent fees to tenants and tougher affordability checks.

Quite a lot to contend with, in other words.

But it’s not all been bad, with positive changes to improve the energy efficiency of rental homes and a movement to include rental payment histories in credit scores.

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How can the modern agent use print marketing to their advantage?

Over the last 10 years, so much has changed within the marketing sector, including the surge of mobile use, the way we work and the different tools available to us. 

Technology has taken over and digital marketing has become an increasingly popular option for a lot of companies.

We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with digital marketing, in fact, it is a valuable tool and we thoroughly recommend businesses to adopt a digital marketing strategy alongside their other marketing activities.

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Forget narrow demands - Work together for more homes

Any day now we’ll hear the date for the Autumn Budget: it may be delayed to wait for a Brexit deal (yes, seriously, the government says there may be one) but the hot money is on the second half of November for Chancellor Phillip Hammond coming to the Commons.

The naming of the Budget date will be followed, as night follows day, by press releases from property industry trade bodies and some individuals demanding the government use the Budget to introduce/scrap/amend (delete as appropriate) a controversial measure.

These demands are usually eminently sensible, but ultimately seem a waste of time.

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Is it time to take more notice of Brexit?

“Baton down the hatches. Stockpile the food cupboard. Brexit is coming and it’s little more than six months away!”

I jest, but there is a point to be made here. Since David Cameron announced there’d be a referendum on our continued membership of the EU, the media in its many guises has obsessed with what each outcome could mean to UK Plc. Once the decision was made and Brexit became real, the ponderings escalated. Now, with just six months to go, there’s little more certainty than when we woke to the news on June 24 2016.

The thing is now, we’re just six months away. No deal has been struck and the jury is out as to whether the absence of a deal will be bad news or not. In short, we’re left wondering…Well, I say that, but in all reality, I do question if we’re just all a bit bored of Brexit?

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