Editors Note: The following content has been provided by Adam Young, Owner and Managing Director of the Milton Keynes independent estate agency, Haig Property Professionals.
No matter what product or service you happen to be purchasing, as a consumer, one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make is whether to source the product or service from a large, national household name or opt for a local, independent provider or retailer instead.
While choosing between a bigger brand and a lesser-known brand can sometimes be an innocuous decision when purchasing comparatively inexpensive items, it takes on far greater significance when purchasing a new home.
Buying a property most likely will be the single most important purchase that you ever make, so getting decisions like this right are, of course, absolutely crucial.
So how do you go about making such an important and critical decision?
Most people are well aware of the perceived advantages of using a large, national company – established practices and procedures, and the added peace of mind that comes from knowing they are a recognised brand that has been in existence for many decades.
But of course, as with most things, there is a flip side that it’s essential to understand and be aware of. That’s why in this article, I’ll be examining some of the things that you might not have considered when opting to use a smaller, independent agent to handle your property instruction.
Greater Local Knowledge
When it comes to presenting and selling property, local knowledge often goes a very long way. Instructing an agent with an intimate understanding of the local area and market can be a real asset when selling your home. In addition, it’s a great help to have a local and knowledgeable agent who also knows who is likely to buy a specific style of home in the area and where that buyer will look for property information.
A smaller, independent agent is likely to provide a more specialised and tailored service and have more of this valuable knowledge of the local area, particularly if they have lived in the local area for many years and are an active part of the community.
Local agents are likely to have had to work harder to get involved in the community and get to know local people in order to build up their business – and as with all things, often knowing the right people and being able to reach out to them at the right moment can be a difference-maker.
It’s important to note that the type of local knowledge I am referring to here goes well beyond simply knowing some general knowledge of the area, such as the local bus routes and how many schools are nearby. When I mention ‘local knowledge, I am talking about intimate knowledge of the community and what makes it tick. Remember that a home is much more than just the property – a home is also about the other people with whom you will be sharing your neighbourhood and the entire community that supports it.
Trusted and respected within the community
An independent agent is likely to have built up considerable trust within their local community through the strong relationships they have had to build to establish their business. As individuals, they are likely to be well-known and often very well-regarded within the local community. As such, they can tap into these relationships to get your property in front of the right people at the optimum time.
Likely, this type of agent has already helped many people within your local area to buy or sell a property successfully. In addition, they would’ve had to have built up a very personal relationship with previous clients, which means that they’re more likely to be recommended by the local community. Finally, recommended agents from reputable sources add an extra level of trust and dependability in their ability to sell your property successfully.
These types of agents will tend to exude a confidence that people with the local area will trust, which can be a significant benefit when the property goes to market, and you need as many of the right type of people to take notice of it as possible.
Word of mouth and personal recommendations can also play a big part here. Smaller independent agents can often be great networkers and relationship builders, as they have to be in order to promote their business without the huge financial clout of the much bigger corporate agencies. Independent agencies can tap into these personal networks to quickly spread the word about your property by getting close business associates to tell others about the property and make sure that word gets around whenever a new property comes to the market.
You will receive more time and focus from an independent estate agent
It’s highly likely that you will receive a much more dedicated and personal service from a smaller independent estate agent. Generally, an estate agent from a larger corporate firm will tend to have strict targets to adhere to and will also have a much wider portfolio of properties to juggle and manage. Logically, therefore, they are not going to be able to dedicate the same level of in-depth attention and focus on your property as a smaller independent otherwise would.
Larger estate agents will generally have less time available to really get to know you and learn all about your specific preferences and personal requirements.
You’re likely to get more personal help from an independent agent
Much in the same vein as the previous point, a smaller independent agent can help you with various aspects of making your property as presentable and attractive to potential buyers as possible.
Because independents tend to have more time to dedicate specifically to helping you as an individual customer, it’s not unusual for smaller agents to get involved with all manner of various aspects of your properties presentation and provide extensive advice and guidance on specific things that you can do to make your property more appealing to potential buyers.
Independent agents will often offer suggestions on a range of tips you can employ, ranging from tidying up the garden or simple fixes to fixtures and fittings throughout the property to even major structural changes.
Smaller agents can also typically help you with a wide range of auxiliary services that you are likely to require in relation to your property – this can be anything from advice and recommendations on mortgages and legal services through to giving you access to all their trusted contacts within the local area that they have built up over the years, such as home improvement tradesman and specialists, through to local suppliers and removal firms that they have worked with extensively over the years.
At Haig, we’ve even heard cases of smaller independent agents helping out their customers by going round to their property and actually cutting the grass themselves!
This is the kind of in-depth personal service that you can only get from smaller agents and can really help out when you are trying to buy or sell a property and need as much assistance throughout the process as you can possibly get.
Ability to get your questions answered quicker
Another thing that can often be an advantage when using a smaller independent agent is the ability to get any questions or queries that you have answered more quickly.
Often, smaller agents will be more readily available to answer your phone calls or quickly respond to your enquiries over email, as they won’t be as swamped by their targets and workloads.
Communication is really the key to any successful property transaction, and as such, being able to quickly communicate with your agent can alleviate a lot of unknowns and help to take some of the stress and strain out of the overall process.
Greater knowledge of local by-laws and regulations
Local area knowledge that can help you throughout your property journey is not just about things like schools, shops and travel facilities. While these aspects are no doubt important, you shouldn’t forget about things like local laws and by-laws, as well as specific health regulations, building codes or requirements within the local area.
When it comes to legality and understanding the nuances of a particular area, the knowledge of an independent agent can prove invaluable. In addition, a truly knowledgeable agent can help you to reduce the risk of errors and oversights occurring throughout the property buying or selling process.
Less chance of conflicting interests
One of the biggest advantages of using a smaller independent agent is that often they can have fewer conflicts of interest that can negatively affect your property sale or purchase.
When a corporate agent is dealing with many clients, they have to juggle and manage their clients accordingly. As such, they are often under more pressure to complete a certain amount of work and hit strict and challenging targets.
Depending on the price and length/complexity of your transaction, a situation might arise where they have to decide to prioritise certain clients over you. Typically, unless you happen to be one of their best customers, then the risk is that you might get pushed towards the back of the queue and not receive the kind of service you would expect.
With a smaller independent agent, however, this is likely to be less of an issue. Independent agents tend to have far fewer clients to manage simultaneously, so conflicts are much less likely to arise, and you’re more likely to receive very high levels of service as and when you require it.
Put simply, by giving an independent agent a chance; you’re more likely to feel like a highly valued customer who is getting the very best personal attention and service possible from your chosen agent.
Would you like to learn more?
If you’d like to learn more about working with a smaller independent agent and get some specialist advice and guidance relating to your specific circumstances, you can reach out to Adam using the contact details below and he’ll be more than happy to assist you further: