NALS – “No Agent Loves Sarcasm”

by Nick Stott

10:13 AM, 16th November 2011
About 9 years ago

NALS – “No Agent Loves Sarcasm”

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NALS – “No Agent Loves Sarcasm”

Why does the general public have such a poor perception of agents?

Is it because they are often image-conscious, relatively young, and not recognisably qualified?
Anyone who has tried to buy, sell, rent, or let a property in the UK has a negative story to tell about an Estate or Letting Agent, and with minimal levels of regulation, few barriers to entry, and a lack of a tangible product, it is easy to see why.

Can a Leopard change its spots?

Gaining an industry-level, legally-required qualification would not only ‘weed out’ those agents who are treating the job as just a pay-packet rather than a career, but it would also mean that the general public would treat agents with a little more respect to begin with and, as you can imagine, they will receive a better service as a result. 

If you walk into a pub and ask for a pint, and while the barman is pulling it you say “And make sure it’s not watered-down” without a hint of sarcasm, you can safely say that the pint will be lifeless, with a big head, and generally unpalatable. Funnily enough, this is just how an agent should treat you when you walk into their work place and make assumptions as to their credibility and ability. But they have to smile, keep calm and carry on, because landlords and tenants alike are an agent’s lifeblood.

So how can agents turn their public perception into that of a US-style ‘Realtor’, one of their most revered professions?

Agents, like landlords, should embrace further regulation (not bureaucracy – that’s another issue!) in order to distance themselves from rogues and protect the idea that renting is just as viable an option as buying.

Because Property Investment is a long-term endeavour, landlords can be forgiven for being short-sighted and trying to save every penny, whether it is on buildings insurance, repairs, or the agent’s fee. But why do we, as landlords, have to use a Gas Safe-registered plumber and an NICEIC-registered electrician, but not an ‘insert-acronym-here’-registered agent?  After all, it’s all well and good getting a gas safety certificate, but who’s going to monitor when it expires, keep up with changes to legislation, provide copies to the tenant, and arrange for a new one? Yes we can all do this ourselves, but we can also clean our own cars, clear our own gutters, and do our own tax returns, but we pay professionals for speed and peace of mind.

The future’s tight, the future’s change

Agents need to shape-up, there’s no doubting that. But it costs time and money to gain qualifications so unless agents are forced to do so, they won’t, because why should they? And so it comes down on the landlords and tenants as customers, to demand more, expect more, but most importantly, pay a fair price for quality service, without it leaving a bitter taste in their mouths.

Comments

Mary Latham

21:18 PM, 17th November 2011
About 9 years ago

Mark I have an MLAS seminar written just for Agents who let to any client group.This could be rolled out anywhere.

Mark Alexander

21:25 PM, 17th November 2011
About 9 years ago

That's good, but my point was more related to which organisations could influence agents to attend these courses in the same way that B/Ham Uni's and Local authorities influence Student/LHA landlords. There is a huge chunk of the PRS outside student and LHA lettings. Which organisations could influence me, in the same way as the Uni's or Authorities would, given that my market doesn't include LHA tenants (by choice) or Stdents?

Mary Latham

21:43 PM, 17th November 2011
About 9 years ago

You are the person who can influence the Agent Mark because you hold the purse strings and if you choose only to use an agent who has become accredited through an education based scheme with a code of conduct and a requirement for continual professional development like MLAS & NLA you will make it commercially advantagous for him - by you I mean all the "you" who are his potential clients.

I think that any Agent who wants to gain a competitive edge should become accredited and he will then have the info to sell himself to landlords and to convince them that he is worth trusting with their investments and tenants. If I were an agent I would clean up in most areas because I know that so many landlords feel like that have chosen the best of a bad bunch and that is crazy. I would have a simple marketing strategy which would consist of three questions. I bet you want to know what they are but I am off to bed now good night hahahahaha

Mark Alexander

23:49 PM, 17th November 2011
About 9 years ago

Mary, I'm going to tell Jack to change your Author Profile name to MARY "cliffhanger LATHAM" if you don't stop doing this to me!

I completely occur with the sentiment of your post and you are certainly in the right place here on Property118 to influence a lot of landlords and agents to up their games in respect of Continued Professional Development simply by making them aware of its existence and value. However, there are hundreds of agents and thousands of landlords competing for the student rental market in B'Ham and only three Universities. If the Uni's won't let the landlords and agents to advertise their services to students until they are accredited they are carrying one heck of a lot of influence which is far greater than the power of suggestion. My question, therefore, is what other bodies carry such power and influence over landlords, if any, without resorting to legislation?

Mary Latham

10:34 AM, 18th November 2011
About 9 years ago

Mark any body who works with landlords or agents have the "power" to insist that they are accredited. Many will worry that this will reduce the number of people who will work with them but in fact this has not proved to be the case in the West Midlands.

I have been given yet another name on Twitter today "diva" hahahahaha I like that better than cliffhanger.I will put you out of your misery later.

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