This week marks an anniversary for me. It was the first week of June in 1997 that I started an eighteen month period (the only period in my career) away from front line estate agency.
This was when I was appointed as Managing Director of the then newly launched Hambro Countrywide Conveyancing business. I learnt a lot of “life lessons” during those eighteen months - perhaps some of that another time….
But, of relevance to my point today, it also marked the first time that email became a truly everyday part of my working life. Interestingly then, given that this is my fortieth year, this means that I have now been using emails for as long as I wasn’t. This won’t seem very impressive for all of you twenty and thirty somethings, but it’s an interesting milestone for me.
This anniversary and a meeting with Peter Maskell of award winning Horsham agent Brock Taylor last week got me thinking about how the practical aspects of negotiating have changed so much in that time. This is particularly pertinent as most Fee First/No Frills agents facilitate the buyer and seller to negotiate direct with each other by email.
In 1978, it was immutable that you visited vendors to submit offers. The only time we were allowed to tie up deals over the phone (and bear in mind that not every one had a phone in those days!!) was when the vendor lived more than a sensible car journey away.
Then something seemed to happen around the end of the eighties, all of a sudden it seemed ok to routinely phone vendors. Then ten years later as email really began to be the way that people expected to communicate, negotiating went the same way. No colour, no back story. Just black and white, binary remarks batted back and forward in text.
In 2017 of course, we never have to speak to anyone - Pizza delivery, Taxi ordering, Shopping, Holiday booking - I even WhatsApp my own son to ask him if he fancies making me a cup of tea when I know that he’s only upstairs in his bedroom.
So is it any surprise that newcomers to our industry see nothing wrong with offers being negotiated in this same manner? But am I alone in thinking that something has been lost? I know that I tied up countless deals over the years by only looking the vendor or purchaser in the eye and talking through the story rather than just the cold facts.
I’ll return to this next week, but I’d be pleased to hear from you if you think we’ve lost something, or indeed if we’ve gained something. Whether you are a Full Service agent or a Self Service agent, how do you submit offers?
PS I wrote all of this before reading the news about Zillow and their plans to invade the UK with an Instant Offer function on their Portal.
Prescient as ever !!