We live in an age where things that your parents wore come back into fashion and everything seems to have its own particular popularity cycle. Increasingly, we live in a society where once again the independent retailer is celebrated; we shop local, support standalone makers, and pay more attention to where our consumables are produced.
Indeed, in the suburbs of Birmingham where we are selling properties, we are seeing this trend occur more and more. There is the rise of community centric events like the Bearwood Street Festival and the Rowheath Pavillion Beach; we also see shops like Loaf set up shop in up and coming Stirchley. And, of course, Moseley and Kings Heath continue to lead the front on protecting a fiercely independent high street.
So, with all this support behind local producers and independent retailers, should this same trend continue when it comes to choosing your estate agent?
Well, being a family-owned independent estate agency with long established roots in the areas we sell and let houses – of course we agree! But, don’t take our word for it – have a look at some of the reasons why we think going independent is the best option for landlords and house sellers.
Gone are the days when you had to go big to get seen. Nowadays, pretty much all independent estate agents will list your properties on exactly the same property portals that the bigger boys use, too. At Oulsnams, we list on Rightmove and OnTheMarket, as well as our own extensive website. So, you can be sure that you are not missing out on prospective tenants or purchasers spotting your property.
In fact, because most professional tenants search for their next home on Rightmove and Zoopla, it is no longer an absolute advantage to have a larger applicant register.
Having a more manageable applicant register means that the dedicated team of lettings or sales negotiators will be able to match your home to a prospective tenant or buyer really quickly. There are definite benefits of having a team who has built up good, working relationships with the clients on their books as opposed to being based in a call centre where there is no face to face contact, and it’s pot luck who you will speak to.
Large, corporate agencies might well operate with multi-disciplined teams across a very large geographical area. In our opinion, it works really well to have a smaller team operating in a smaller area. We also think it’s a good idea to split the responsibilities of lettings negotiators and property managers, as well as having an entirely separate sales team.
When it comes to lettings, the most successful independent agents will have dedicated in-house property managers who only deal with property maintenance and are not distracted with offers coming in or new business. Their priority is to sort issues and keep your property well maintained. They will know your property, and have a good one to one relationship with you.
Of course, there is a myriad of legislative driven processes that need to be followed in order for the estate agency to operate effectively. However sometimes, it is good for each branch manager not to be restricted by rigid processes without any flexibility for autonomy where needed. Independents agents are often run by the person (or family member) who set them up and will really care about how the company is perceived and will adapt to the clients.
Nothing can be more beneficial to the sale or rent of your property than local knowledge and expertise. The questions that people ask about transport links, community facilities or best investment areas are best answered by the people who live in and around the area. Many of our Oulsnam branch managers and staff have been with the company for over 10 years, and have lived in the areas of the branches they work in for even longer.
Sometimes, it’s just as much about how your home is presented as it is the perception of the agent who is selling or renting it. What is the public’s perception about some of the larger corporate agencies? Believe it or not, this could have an impact of the initial perception of your home. Often, local independent agencies have put in a lot of time, effort, and money to generate and sustain a solid and well received image in their communities. At Oulsnams, we are super proud to have continuously supported and been involved in community-led events that are happening around our branches. This also means we know more about what goes on in the areas you are looking to live!
Sometimes, corporate agencies will take over a smaller estate agent and retain the name. This means that although you may think you are employing the services of an independent agency, you might get one that still has to confirm to the more rigid processes are fee structure created by their larger parent companies. So, make sure you do your research before signing those contracts if you really wanted to get involved with a more independent estate agent.
We’d like to think that all agents are going to be proactive and professional in their approach to selling your home. But perhaps it’s a bit like choosing to buy your bread from the bakery next door as opposed to a pre-packaged offering from the superstore. One of them definitely ends up giving you more satisfaction!