Date Published 21 May 2015
In the majority of markets, there are two basic types of estate agents: on the one hand, the small, independently-owned firm with often no more than a single office, and on the other the local branch of a big regional or national chain – known in the trade as 'corporates.'
So, which do you go for?
Many people, of course, will automatically go for the big brand name – perhaps because they are familiar with it from a previous experience elsewhere, but more often simply because we are conditioned to think that big equals beautiful.
However, estate agency simply doesn't work that way. Go into a McDonalds anywhere in the world, and you'll be sold a more or less identical product. The same goes for any of the big supermarket chains, wherever you go, the products and prices will generally be the same. But estate agency is different, because it's all about service, and service is all about people.
What this means is that unlike the fast food or grocery business, a big, well-known agency brand tells you absolutely nothing about the quality of service you will actually receive, because that all depends on the people you deal with in your local branch.
Size, therefore, means nothing in estate agency.
Ultimately, what matters most is the quality of the people you are dealing with.
Of course, I'm not saying that it is impossible to get good service from a corporate agent – after all, your local branch may have good people in it, who know their business and know your market. However, there is one more thing you should think about. Like all large organisations, corporate agents tend to be target-driven. They have targets for everything: the number of properties they take on, the number of mortgages and other financial products they can sell to their clients, the number of property sales - even the number of price reductions they can push through in order to achieve those sales! And the fact is, as we know only too well from what happens in our schools and in the NHS – the pursuit of targets is not always compatible with the delivery of first-class customer service.
So, in summary, when choosing who to entrust with the sale of your single most valuable possession, your best bet is to go for a well-established independent agent - someone whose whole business depends on delivering quality service, rather than hitting targets set by some head office miles away.
In other words, when it comes to estate agents, small is beautiful!