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Agents - What percentage do you charge?

Let me tell you a story, a story that happens every day up and down our fair land, in estate and lettings agency offices from John o’Groats to Lands End...

Ring ring ... ring ring (goes the phone  .. lovin’ the sound effects) .. to which the caller asks, “How much do you charge?”. Now at this point, most people will give the standard reply, “Well Sir/Madam, that depends on a number of factors including valuation, marketing package and other factors”. However, if the caller then says, “Don’t you want my business, just tell me your fees ”, most agents will buckle and tell them.

“1.2% + VAT to sell and 10% + VAT fully managed”,

 “Thank you. I have your fees now and I will be getting back to you soon.”

Does that sound familiar? Can you honestly say your negs don’t EVER mention fees? 100% of the time?

Just because the prospective landlord or vendor is asking for your fees, doesn’t mean you have to say them. You see, estate and letting agents, misguidedly mention their fees too early.

So, why is that the case?

One reason they are asking for your fees is because they believe all agents are the same. They see every letting agent, every estate agent on the High Street being completely 100% identical. They see the services we provide (board, rightmove ad, viewings newspaper ad etc) are interchangeable with ones provided by another agent. ... and let’s be honest, every agents’ website is, apart from the name across the top and brand colour .. the same (try it).

Some landlords and vendors perceive estate and letting agents are no different to insurance brokers or super markets.   In a nutshell, the prospective landlord or prospective vendor believes they have decided that what we do, as an agent, be that lettings or estate agency, should be looked upon as a commodity. 

.. but then you might say, “Hold on Chris, my estate agency or lettings agency is different, we go the extra mile, we care more for our landlords, our vendors, our tenants and buyers .. we are not like the ‘cookie cutter’ one ize fits all, corporate or the national online agents of this world...  our service is unique, it’s not a commodity.”

So what is the solution to not being treated like all the others, not being treated like a commodity?
You as an agent will initially have to stop behaving like a commodity.  You can only do that if you do something different, something different that makes the prospective landlord and vendor sit up and go, wow, they are different. Not in a dress a dog up a clown’s hat gimmicky way, but something that means something to the prospective landlord/vendor .. something that adds value to for them.

Go on any course and they will tell you should never mention fees until you have a comprehensive understanding of the landlords/vendors needs and have an agreement that what you are offering meets those needs (and wants).... sounds good doesn’t it?  I do agree with that. If you haven’t created the value to ensure you list the property, you aren’t ready to deliver fees.

However, let us leave the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ class room and come back to cold hard reality.  You know your Valuer is good on the doorstep and converts well, but it’s you, the neg, that has to try and explain all that ‘understanding’ and ‘knowing your needs’  when you get the irate “Whatcha’ fees phone call?”

So what is my thoughts on all this?

One solution would be better training of the negs. For that I would recommend you consider using the services of an estate agency trainer. My favourites are Stephen Brown and Sam Ashdown, 
Another solution means there will be times when someone asks for your fees and you must refuse to answer it. 

.. but what if there was another way, another solution?

What if you created different and awesome value to the prospective landlord or vendor, before that “Whatcha’ fees phone call”?

What if you got calls like these ...

  • ·         Hav from South London posted this in our Facebook group  investor reads my blog on why 1 bed flats are the best investments in Croydon. Calls to discuss. yada yada yada.... gives us 2 HMOs to rent and is potentially buying one of our 1 beds
  • ·         Ian from Buckinghamshire posted this  The local newspaper 'editorial blog' has generated several enquiries ..  over the last few weeks as has the blog itself. Much of the traffic to the blog is via Rightmove. Result...September will be the best instruction month to date. I mentioned a local bank manager I was dealing with some months ago he completes next week and has referred me to his brother who completes October...happy days. Holding a landlord advisory seminar in January with same bank. Keep the faith does work. A big thank you to Chris and the farmers for all the ideas and work that is put in to this group...invaluable.”
  • ·         Paul from Essex, who has 200 managed properties and is increasing that by 10 rental properties a month, tell us how he is doing it, in this 6 minute video

It is our job, as agents, to create value; before, during and after the free valuation. 

You know you are different as an agent, you know you aren’t a commodity, you know you go the extra mile and you can prove that on the door step at the free valuation and most certainly after the free valuation once you have the property on your books.

But here is the issue, if you aren’t proving that you are different from all the other agents in your town, by adding value to landlords or vendors before the free valuation, you can’t blame landlords and vendors to perceive you as the same?

All the agents, who were talking above, are doing is creating value BEFORE the phone call comes in for the free valuation.

They are creating value by using a type of marketing that has been around since the 1890’s (yes, iI said the 1890’s). It’s called CONTENT MARKETING. Here is the definition..

Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action

The biggest issue you have as an agent is how the hell do you get you get the free val in the first place?

All they did was create and provide valuable information (ie content) that is relevant and valuable to their local landlords and local homeowners. All they did was write articles about their local property market. What was happening to property prices in their locality? What was happening to rents and yields? How their town compared to neighbouring towns in terms of values, rents and yields?
All you have to do is to create and distribute great articles about your local property market.. and it will attract landlords and vendors ... I guarantee it.

 Its hard work and it takes patience. .. but if it was easy, the corporates would be doing it. Many agents haven’t got time to write the articles, so there are four of us in Grantham who ghost write over individual 210 articles a month for agents up and down the UK. There are other agents who join us on our two day courses, where we teach you how to write the articles.

Or you could just start writing them yourself..

And if you need example of the sort of articles that you need to write, here is an excellent example of an agent from Canterbury   Remember, if you don’t come from Canterbury, this is as boring as hell, but landlords and homeowners from Canterbury lap this stuff up. What if you wrote (or you had ghost written for you) articles about your town or local area? Wouldn’t that be good? You would become your town’s property guru. But before I go, what if your competitors started writing articles like this? What if they attracted landlords and vendors away from your agency? 

Think about it.

Kind regards


07950 147 572

PS If you want a chat about this content marketing thing, do give me a tinkle. You might have heard me say ‘landlord farming’ or ‘vendor farming’. All landlord and vendor farming is “content marketing for estate and letting agents”.

PPS If you want to find out more, we have a series of training videos on landlord farming. They are nearly an hour long, and go into a huge amount of detail on how getting new landlords and new vendors to use both your estate agency and lettings agency  .. so make sure you have a cup of coffee and a biscuit to hand when you watch them !!!