Having been on a few property viewings while looking for an investment property recently, I have been alarmed and troubled by the standard to which the agents showing me round have conducted themselves.
One agent didn’t even accompany me around a vacant property, preferring to stay outside and make calls on his mobile after unlocking the front door and inviting me to “Help yourself”.
Another agent responded to my reasonable question “How old is this property?” by saying “As you can see, Mr O’Dell, the property is fairly old”. Not quite the answer I was looking for, to be fair.
Too many viewings are rushed and of poor quality due to the agent failing to prepare. In fact, some are literally … “Oh crikey – its five to three, where are the keys for 27 Palace Drive?” then jumping in the car and haring across town in an effort to arrive not too late.
So how can you ensure you aren’t guilty of such amateurish behaviour and instead conduct your viewings in an exceptional fashion?
The key phrase to remember is… PREPARATION PAVES THE WAY
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” is a philosophy that has stood the test of time for many successful business people.
Of course, the reverse holds true, in that a lack of preparation can result in missed chances.
It is crucial to bear in mind that if you show a customer round a property in an exceptional fashion, and that customer has their own property to dispose of, you will massively increase the chances of securing their instruction by your professionalism and technique displayed at the viewing.
An investment buyer viewing through you might just have a portfolio of other properties that he/she might invite you to manage if you shine in the way you conduct yourself compared to other agents.
There are five key areas of preparation that must be considered, and the initials of those five areas spell out the word PAVES.
Many accompanied viewings fail because the viewer’s questions cannot be answered by the negotiator, leading to loss of control of the situation and leaving the applicant with a lack of confidence in the agent. This is particularly costly if the applicant has yet to decide which agent to instruct to sell their own home.
A few minutes spent considering the benefits of the property prior to leaving the office, including trying to anticipate potential questions (tenure details, improvements made, less apparent selling points) will lead to a more successful outcome.
With certain instructions it is prudent to arrive a few minutes early to give the place an airing, open curtains, turn lights on and so forth. At certain times of year, you would need to consider if there is power at the property otherwise you will be showing someone round in the dark.
Knowledge too is key. Are you able to answer questions about:
Loft – insulated/boarded?
…and more besides.
You need to consider the applicant’s budget, requirements and motivation before the appointment.
This information coupled with your knowledge of the property will lead you to be able to answer the critical question “Why would this person buy this property?”
A little consideration regarding which benefits of the property match the needs of the client will lead to more confident promotion of the salient points.
In short, the more you know about the applicant the better.
We must carefully consider the client. What is their desired timescale? Why are they selling or letting the property? What are their instructions to the agent regarding conducting accompanied viewings? Will they be present? What indications have they given regarding price flexibility? What attracted them to buy the property?
Having the answers to these questions will facilitate appropriate responses to the viewer’s potential queries.
Any professional person needs to have the right tools for their trade. It is no different with an agent conducting a viewing. Here are a few ideas:
Printout of viewing applicant’s info
Info on selling services
Info on lettings including application forms
Other potential properties
Keys to those properties
Smart phone with compass facility
There are others that you may think of. Always be prepared with the right equipment – you will be glad you are prepared on the occasions that you need one or more of the items on that list.
This principle relates to the staff member carrying out the viewing.
Younger negotiators may be unfamiliar with the story of Suzy Lamplugh, and thankfully such cases are rare. However, common sense must be applied to protect the safety of staff at all times. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, set up in 1986 following the 25-year-old’s disappearance when meeting an unknown client, carries out excellent work in highlighting the risks people face in such employment.
Best practice is to make certain that colleagues know each other’s whereabouts and anticipated return time through diligent diary entries, that staff have mobile phones and personal alarms with them while away from the office, and that “unknown” applicants are requested to meet in the office before the viewing.
The best agents have a code word that staff can call in and use if in difficulties, as well as a policy that if an employee is going straight home after their last viewing of the day, they call the manager/ owner to let them know all is well.
So Property, Applicant, Vendor/Landlord, Equipment, Security…. preparation PAVES the way to success!