Lynne Lancaster of PFK Estate Agency looks at the human side of buying and selling a home.
In the days before technology invaded estate agency - flooding it with helpful and sometimes not so helpful 'proptech' – estate agents kept buyers' details written down sometimes on cards that were stored in plastic boxes. These were called hot boxes and most estate agents had them.
The cards told the stories of each individual or family. Notes contained names, contact details, price range, aspirations, desires, and even dreams. Depending on how long buyers had been looking for a property, each card was persistently scrutinised and customers contacted. The longer the search, the fuller, more dog-eared and coffee-stained the cards became until they formed part of their subjects' stories reflecting the struggles to make dreams come true.
Why so much detail on the cards? Because how on earth can you find what someone truly wants in a home unless you've asked them and understood their answer?
Nowadays the computer has long overtaken the hot box. In some ways it's an efficient change. But in other ways it depersonalises the process. You can't get much more personal than a home and its occupants. A hot box was a list of human beings being human and looking for their safe place.
Strokes on a keyboard rather than scribbled notes have replaced the hot box - the lowest of low tech. But all is not lost. Because the best estate agents still have hot boxes, it's just that these days they keep them in their heads. They haven't needed them much over the past few years. But now they are being pressed back into service as the market realigns in favour of buyers.
So, when you're looking for an agent to sell your home find out what they think your property is worth and why. But also discover if they know their buyers, their hot box. Ask them who is buying, do they have someone who could be interested in your home and how proactive are they finding you the right buyer? What success have they recently had in agreeing sales and why. This knowledge is basic estate agency, your agent should know who they are going to put your property in front of and if your agent doesn't know their buyers then they are relying on a computer to match your property with a buyer and for me that means they are in the wrong job. A brilliant estate agent should listen to their customers, understand their journey including their wants and needs as this knowledge is basic estate agency. If someone has to use a computer to match home to a buyer then they're in the wrong job, because it still needs a human to understand what another human wants and why.
So if you're thinking of buying, selling, renting or letting, you can speak to one of our friendly property experts today and see what really sets us apart.