Ben Robinson, MD of Landmark Estate Agency Services
The process of buying a property in England is getting slower. Even putting aside the uncertainty of the past few years, Landmark data found that it took an average of 29 days longer to complete a purchase in 2022 than in 2019.
Nowadays, the average transaction is taking 133 days compared to 104 days just four years ago. The fact that the process is full of very necessary steps that protect consumers can be lost on those looking to buy or sell. The complexity involved often jars with the emotion of buying a new home when the desire to move is confounded by confusion and delays.
This frustration is front and centre for all those property professionals who are paving the way forwards. Especially the many owner-operated estate agents who need their pipelines to flow as smoothly and reliably as possible. At the moment, selling fees for agents are taking ever longer to reach their revenue line - and fixed costs are only increasing. The cost-of-living crisis and high interest rates are further fuelling buyer uncertainty.
All this paints a tough picture for agents. Which means we need to unlock the value sitting within the buying chain – and the answer lies in creating more certainty and removing delays.
But how can we make this a reality? One of the biggest levers we can pull to speed up transactions is to collect and share the right information at the start of the process.
Let’s break it down. Conveyancer enquires only begin when all the right data is available. Collecting the information and going back and forth with questions often makes up much of those “average” 133 days – so it makes sense to focus here. Crucially, Landmark has found that by ordering the searches at the point of listing it’s possible to save between 4 and 6 weeks.
If conveyancers can ask deal-breaking questions right at the start, then the whole chain understands whether a sale is able to progress. If the contract pack and all the baseline information is ready from the outset - and available to all who need it - then the whole process can complete in 8 weeks, or even less. More importantly, this timeframe is within the mover’s control.
Let’s take Scotland as an example: the barriers are fewer and the time to buy can be as little as 6-8 weeks. To list a property, the Home Report is required upfront (except for new build homes) and potential purchasers must appoint a solicitor to make an offer. Crucially, all the right information and people are together at the start.
It seems the potential for change is huge. In Landmark’s own experience, agents in Scotland have more than 90% surety of a transaction, which is primarily driven by their different way of working.
Technology can be a great enabler to improving efficiency, but at the core of this thinking is greater cooperation between stakeholders and a practical approach to bringing together existing systems that already support thousands of transactions and need to move forwards. Let's not forget that consumers are already one step ahead: changing shopping behaviours and the growth of online marketplaces mean people want (and expect) products and services to be delivered near instantly.
I believe the property sector is ready for a shift in its thinking and approach to transactions – we just have to take the right steps.
ESTAS Standard of Excellence
In May this year we announced the 400 firms that made the shortlist and attained the ESTAS STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE 2023 based on the service ratings they achieved via our customer review platform. These reviews have been completed at the end of the moving experience giving a highly accurate overview of the standard of service that’s been delivered to the end client so The STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE provides a kitemark demonstrating the consistent service performance your firm delivers to clients.
It’s therefore essential that you maximise the opportunity to promote your success over the coming months - as one of the top property firms in the UK for customer service – before the winners are announced at The ESTAS Awards on October 20th. Your FREE digital marketing pack provides a range of collateral to help you do this, contact us if you need another pack sent out to you.
This year we’ll be celebrating 20 years of The ESTAS Awards on Friday 20th October. Phil Spencer will once again announce the winners in front of 1,000 of the UK’s top property professionals. The awards are always held at lunch time enabling guests to come to London for the day without incurring hotel costs although many decide to make a weekend visit to the capital.
For more information about the event and book tickets go to: https://www.theestas.com/book-tickets