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Understanding and delivering value

Whereas many other industries have been hit hard by the rise of the internet, estate agency has endured. And broadly speaking, this can be attributed to two factors:

  1. Estate agents have embraced the opportunities provided by the internet and use it to enhance the services they provide
  2. The industry is still driven by on-the-ground insight and human relationships

The best agents have a street-by-street understanding of their area, a feel for what’s in vogue, and an eye on all the political, socio-economic, commercial and – ultimately – human factors that are likely to affect future demand. The appointment of an effective headmaster in a local school, rumoured plans for a new railway station, or even the rise of café culture in a particular street, can all make their mark on the local property market.

Crucially, agents looking to establish or develop a Land & New Homes operation must bring this insight to bear when building relationships with developers. In this sector of the business, estate agents occupy a unique place as conduit between supply and demand, and their influence can add real value to the developer’s offering and this in turn will add value to the local market.

Developers often approach estate agents for pricing advice, and it’s vital that the agent appreciates a) what kind of specification the developer is likely to deliver and b) the product that is being proposed for the site. Or to put it another way: is the developer looking to sell used Fords when a new BMW garage is what’s needed?

Obviously, the car metaphor is simplistic, but we at Thomas Mae have found that developers appreciate the awareness and insight that estate agents who’ve been trained by us can demonstrate.

A developer might be thinking of building six executive homes, say, when the location would be better suited to ten student houses. And similarly, at a time when the cost of every square foot counts, a suggestion that space savings or adjustments can be made to the plans without compromising the final selling price, is always welcome.

It’s all about adding value, and if that can be achieved, the developer can make a more competitive bid for the land and consequently secure a better deal for the agent in the long term.

A good Land & New Homes agent will scrutinise a developer’s plans and challenge when necessary, while building a solid working relationship. A bad Land & New Homes agent will make pricing decisions based on second-hand comparables and ignore crucial factors such as the developer’s previous work, the likely finish and the impact that a ‘place-making’ development can offer.

Finally, what we’re keen to impress upon all the agents we work with, is that consistency is key. It’s not enough to offer off-the-cuff advice based on half-baked theories. The same logic, awareness and thought processes need to be brought to bear to every development from every developer.

Doing this builds trust, boosts your chances of success, and improves the long-term profitability of your business.

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Author: Kevin Ellis

Our company was established in 2014 by Kevin, who previously ran a highly-successful development department for an award-winning property services business. Today, he has grown Thomas Mae into a thriving business, staffed by a trusted team of property consultants who are adept at sharing their knowledge and skills. Kevin’s mission is to foster strategic land investment, to deliver solid, profitable results across the whole of the UK, and to work effectively with both private landowners as well as commercial and institutional landowners.

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