After all the effort of building a development, many smaller developers then hand over responsibility for sales and marketing to an estate agent.
It’s a relationship that usually goes very well or very badly, depending on the parties involved. We spoke to property developer David Houghton, Director of Notion Developments, and David and Allison Angel, owners of estate agents Allison & Co. Both parties have worked together and report having a successful and profitable working relationship .
The Property Developer
Notion Developments is an SME developer based in Salford. The company was established as a family business in 2008 and has seen consistent growth year on year. Although the company does carry out refurbishment and renovation, its core business remains building select residential development for itself or for others.
David explains why it’s sensible to choose a local estate agent when it comes to marketing:
Property and Locality Expertise
“We are first and foremost builders and developers and so when it comes to marketing our new homes we want to work with local partners that are as passionate about our properties as we are. Our first port of call is usually the local estate agency and having worked with several across the years, we now have a very clear idea on the best way to work together.
“We expect our estate agent partners to have insider specialist knowledge about the local market and trends. We obviously have our own in-house expertise on land acquisition, planning and so on but it never hurts to have another team to bounce ideas off. The partner agency should be able to talk to us about lettings, rentals and resales – in other words, the full package.”
Agent Fees and Developer Expectations
“Both parties should be frank, transparent and honest when it comes to fees – and what is expected. David explains:
“It is in both our interests to sell the properties as quickly as possible and generally, we would expect our estate agency teams to be very proactive and share some of the costs associated with marketing the homes.
“I want our partner agency to do a lot more than put our scheme on their website and we have in the past used tools such as prominent window displays, a direct mail campaign, an event, a display in the estate agency, promotional hoardings and so on.
“We also require regular report updates – what kind of feedback has there been? How many website click throughs have you had? What type of people are making the enquiries and where are they coming from?
“On completion, we generally like our estate agents to do the key hand over and the first walk through to complete the snagging list on our behalf. This is a part of the process that is often over looked and so the developer should make it clear that is part of the contract.
“The main thing for us is working with people that we trust and being able to have an open and transparent relationship with no nasty surprises.
Allison & Co. Estate Agents recently worked with Notion on their Clifton Rd, Monton scheme. Their partnership worked well, and they would recommend similar partnerships to other estate agents. They explained:
How to attract potential property developers
“Estate agents should try to find out who your local developers are and what kind of plans they have in your area. You want to be front of mind when the time comes for them to appoint an agent. It’s always good for local businesses to work collaboratively, so make your local knowledge and expertise a strong selling point.
“We are working in a competitive environment and so showing how you add value is a bonus. This could be anything from making introductions to investors or providing data on proposed regeneration or new infrastructure.”
Don’t be scared to offer suggestions
“Estate agents know how Purchasers think, so you guidance is invaluable. Purchasers tend not to be able to imagine how their new home will look or its size and so it’s often hard to sell off plan without good visuals. We realize that a show home may be expensive, especially for an SME developer, but at the very least, insist on great artist’s impressions and some examples of the specification that buyers can expect.
“Also, as an agent, don’t be afraid to put forward your suggestions, especially pre-build. If you think buyers would appreciate an open plan kitchen/diner rather than two separate rooms, say so. The developer will value your expertise.
Try to communicate at a senior level
Good communication is vital. We have found that working with a smaller developer rather than a large housebuilder is more straightforward as we are usually communicating with the owner or at least a senior decision maker – and so that makes things happen quickly and minimizes any misunderstandings.