Mountgrange Heritage has just had its most profitable year in nine years – since the current owners acquired the company in a management buyout in 2009.
Other London estate agents are faltering; Countrywide recently lost its CEO Alison Platt, the victim of a profit warning that sent their shares tumbling. Foxtons also posted a set of gloomy results showing a 42% drop in earnings in 2017 compared to 2016 in the face of ‘challenging conditions’.
So why are we thriving while the High Street corporate agents are struggling? Here’s what I think:
Highly personalised service that only independents can offer
In tough times clients demand a level of service you simply don’t get from a corporate, formulaic estate agent.
Sellers need the kind of expert knowledge that can only be gained from years of working in a specific area. Our highly experienced team are afforded the freedom to think creatively and the time to get to know every client personally. Because we have a small, stable team, clients are not passed from pillar to post or called by someone they’ve never met or spoken to. They deal solely with a few senior team members who personally handle every step of the sales process and get to know their needs inside out.
I’ve noticed a discernible shift in public sentiment in the last year or so towards ‘small’ independent agents with sellers more willing to appoint them because they realise they work harder and more creatively.
I often see independent agents appointed alongside corporate agents as sellers hedge their bets with a better known, possibly international brand together with a local ‘smaller’ agent. Defying all the arguments that ‘big is better’, more often than not, it’s the independent agent who succeeds, simply because they put more effort into the sale.
“Excellent personalised service. Pleasant to deal with team. First class level of communications throughout the entire sales process including feedback in respect of prospective purchasers. Proactive and competent guidance regarding the information necessary for buyers and their solicitors. Excellent localised specialised knowledge and friendly office.”
A polarising market?
I believe the residential property market has polarised in recent years. The advent of online or what we, in the business, refer to as ‘call-centre’ agents has given those who want to sell their property ‘on the cheap’ an option to pay lower fees.
However, as with everything in life, you get what you pay for and many people recognise that to sell in a tough market, it’s worth paying a full fee and getting a bespoke, high end service. This polarisation between cheap and high end has left the corporate agents in the middle adrift.
At Mountgrange Heritage, we offer our clients something we think the corporates have lost touch with; the ability to treat every client as an individual, with unique needs and expectations. We also work far harder for our clients because each client is so important to us.
Legacy clients and referrals
We’ve been operating since 1999 and as a maturing business we’re finding that the number of legacy clients has snowballed in recent years. These are people who’ve bought, sold or let through us previously and are coming back second or even third time around because we know them and their property.
We’re also getting increasing numbers of referrals from those who we’ve sold and let for and who’ve recommended our services to friends, colleagues and family.
Success isn’t defined by expansion
Unlike many corporate businesses following a classic capitalist model, the success of our business isn’t defined by the number of offices we have or size of the team working for us.
For us to succeed, it’s not about expanding into new areas and opening new offices. Over the past few years, we’ve adopted a sensible strategy. We operate in the areas of London we’re expert in, namely Kensington, Notting Hill and North Kensington. We’ve chosen not to dilute what we know and love but to concentrate fully in it. This can only benefit our clients as they know our sole focus is on their property, not how to manage our expansion plans.
Even though the market in central London has been subdued in recent months, there are always positives to focus on and this is what we do, day in, day out. We remain upbeat and push hard for our sellers at every stage of the process.
If you want evidence of how we’ve succeeded in the past year, an interesting case study is featured in this recent blog which tells the story of how we made an extra £1 million for a client in Kensington last year.
If you’d like to find out more about the service we offer to clients, we’d love to hear from you. Contact your nearest office and we’d be happy to talk.
Michael Wilson, Managing Director – Head of Sales