Don’t hide your independent status: it’s what vendors want.

Small, local, independent estate agents are often slightly embarrassed to be seen as such. Creating a website that looks like you’re a corporate is a mistake. You’re independent: be proud of all that entails: personal service, attention to detail, high level accountability.

Vendors tend to look for a corporate agent when they need a safe option. Maybe a quick or asking price sale is vital to them, or the market is shaky, or they’ve tried an independent but it ‘didn’t work’. When their backs are against the wall, the higher level properties will go to Savills, Knight Frank or JSS, and the low-to-mid will go to Countrywide, Your Move, or a Sequence agent.

When the situation is reversed, i.e. when a vendor feels that time is on their side so they can afford to ‘test the market’, or that they are prepared to hold out for the price they want, then they’ll try a  ‘riskier’ option, or one that they perceive to be less ‘safe’. This is the time they may consider an online agent, or a new starter, although this is also when they may well look for a cheap fee.

To attract the vendors who will really value your independence, you need to really spell out your differences on your website, as well as in your marketing.

  •  Truly personal service
  •  Help and support that is above and beyond the norm
  •  Going the extra mile
  •  Attention to detail
  •  Long-standing and close-knit team
  •  Personal accountability from the owner
  •  Integrated into the local community
  •  Family values
  •  Client satisfaction is everything to you

These are all elements of your service that most corporates would find hard to beat.

But how do you overcome the usual list of objections that you get in market appraisals? Objections like these:

“You’re too small”

“You don’t have the same marketing skills and reach”

“You don’t advertise in London or nationally”

“You’re not a well known name out of the area”

“You don’t have any high value properties in your portfolio”

Objections like these can make you feel you’re on the back foot, and can cause you to stammer and waffle. Here are some of my suggested responses. If you like them, practice them, so they feel natural and flow at the right time:

“You’re too small”

“Small means less rigid, more flexible, more responsive. We can arrange viewings to suit your buyer, not our opening times”

“You don’t have the same marketing skills and reach”

“We advertise on exactly the same property portals that all the national agents do, so we are reaching the same 1 million buyers that they are”

“You don’t advertise in London or nationally”

“I’ll let you into a little secret – agents don’t advertise to find buyers, we advertise to attract sellers. As an industry, we know that print advertising doesn’t sell houses, and that 98% of enquiries come from online advertising, for sale boards, word of mouth, and simply calling the buyers registered on our mailing list.”

“You’re not a well known name out of the area”

“Buyers from out of the area don’t know how many offices we have; they are simply calling the number on the board or from the online advert, which is an 0843 number – the same as every single other agent on the property portals.  All the buyer wants to do is book a viewing – they don’t care where they are phoning.”

“You don’t have any high value properties in your portfolio”

“Our public portfolio doesn’t include some very high end properties that we are marketing discreetly for our clients.  In addition, we have a ‘Gold Marketing Package’ which will reflect the prestige nature of your property.” (only say this if it’s true!)


Why independent estate agents work harder

You’re a cheetah, whilst corporate agents can be a big, slow elephant. In other words, you can be much more responsive and flexible. You are the main decision maker, which means you can make the right decisions quickly for your clients.  Corporate agents often have to refer all major decisions to a head office, and responses are often slow, and ‘corporate’ in nature.

With your agency, your clients receive personal service from someone who not only really cares, but who also has a personal accountability.  Your clients’ successes are your successes, directly.

Also, YOU are the face of your business, and that is permanent.  You may have been in your town for years – how many new managers have your local corporates had in that time?

Because you are part of the fabric of the town, you have helped several generations of some families to move, and you hope to continue to do so for many years to come. I recently walked down Linlithgow High Street with my friend and client Paul Rolfe. It took us ages to walk the quarter of a mile to his office because so many people wanted to say hello to him, ask him questions and update him on their latest news. What a lovely position to be in; so much a part of the community. And I know that Paul can walk through his home town proudly, knowing he really is the best agent for those people he serves.

Tactics can be copied; personality can’t

You are uniquely you, and that’s what your best clients buy into. Let the corporates all copy one another’s tactics and strategies; they can’t copy YOU.

So take a look at your website, and if it smacks of pretending to be corporate, make it more personal. Add photos and information about you and your team. Make your social media profiles open and public, so you can connect with your local community on a deeper level. That’s what your clients want: someone they can really trust, who has their back. Someone who they might see down the pub, or watching their child play sports, and who they know is in it for the long haul.

That’s the kind of agent I would want to sell my home; wouldn’t you?

Embrace your independence, and be proud of it.

Talk about it in your marketing, your blog posts, on your website, and in everything you do and say. It’s your most valuable attribute. Not everyone will want it, but the right kind of clients will.

If you’d like to have a chat with me about how you can use your independent status to work for you, not against you, then tell me a bit about your business here, and we’ll arrange a free call.  Looking forward to talking to you about your fabulous independence!

What to read next: Are you Suffering from Superhero Syndrome?

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