During lockdown EYE received numerous communications from agents venting their anger at some of the apparently unsafe behaviours they were witnessing being carried out by competitors.
By their nature the accusations were hard to prove as they amounted to hearsay, so we refrained from publishing.
Now that the market is open again readers may find the more general views of Paul Endacott, who started 1st avenue 16 years ago, to be interesting.
Open Letter to Letting Agents
I’m also deeply disappointed in many of my industry peers that are flouting both the government guidelines and ARLA’s guidance on viewings because they have failed to get themselves ready to restart with contactless viewings whilst the industry was closed for business.
My staff are feeding back that prospective tenants are out doing speculative physical viewings without a virtual viewing first, pre-referencing their financial situation or are ‘serious about making an offer’.
These agents are not only putting themselves at risk, but they are also putting their staff at risk and the people they go out and meet.
This attitude is regrettable and sends out mixed signals to prospective tenants that it’s ok to go out and physically view a property, not to mention it dilutes the actions and behaviours of letting agents who are holding up the torch for doing it properly and following the rules.
This bears out just by looking at property portals, most adverts have no virtual viewing available.
Last weekend I stopped past many estate agents offices in my local market (from the outside of course) and there was little in the way of social distancing between staff, random people were walking into offices with no mind from the customer or staff to keep 2 metres apart, let alone take details as the law says we should in case we need to trace them back to help stop a 2nd wave.
Doing the job properly isn’t easy, and the answer isn’t physical viewings as a default position and those agents that do are putting their wealth before the health of their staff and patrons.
My company set up early using the grant money we received from the government to invest in a Matterport camera so we can produce a 3D twin of the property we’re renting so tenants can walk around the digital twin as if they were physically there.
We book in via Calendly and link it to our Zoom accounts and then share our screens and conduct viewings this way.
Staff have gamer headphones, LED ring lights and green screens so we can do it all professionally from the desk without putting anyone at risk.
Tenants can be at home or in Timbuctoo for all it matters, it doesn’t.
Viewings on the fly at the customer’s convenience, not ours. It works.
We are back to normal and tenants are signing up without even conducting a physical viewing until after referencing.
Then, there were the agents that flouted those initial lockdown rules too.
The number of tout letters I saw from agents proclaiming they were still open and sticking the boot into agents that had done the right thing and closed, and I saw many.
This was skullduggery at it’s highest, punching their peers in the gut for adhering to the rules and putting anyone prepared to break lockdown to go and view a property.
Is it any wonder that as an industry we only just rate above lawyers as the most disliked of people?
Our industry is better than that. We must be better than that.
The future of lettings is changing and if you are one of those many agents that claim to ‘be different’ or ‘innovative’ then now is your chance to actually get a viable USP.
Like us, finding a new way to work, look after your clients, closing deals and do it safely from the desk.
Granted we will all be eating salad for the lack of getting up and going out, but this is the new normal.
Get on board or get left behind.