We are getting a number of calls right now from agents looking to team up with us on a joint agency basis.
We’ve long been advocates of cooperation between agents. In fact, my very first contact with Unique Property Company was back when I was an agent in London Bridge and out two companies worked together on an apartment in Bankside Lofts. What followed was five years of collaboration, selling pretty much every property we were instructed on and becoming an unbeatable force in the SE1 market.
You can imagine the strength of the offer: I ran the loft-specialist local agent, and Unique covered the individualist side. Bankside Lofts was the perfect summing up of our relationship given that no two apartments are the same in the Piers Gough-designed Manhattan Lofts development next to Tate Modern.
The problem for most high-street agents is the sharing of fees. They want the agent who sells the property to get the bigger (or only) share, but I never really saw the sense in that. If you’re going to work together then it should be on equal terms, particularly if you a want a long-term relationship out of it. A winner-takes-all arrangement is, to me, small minded and egotistical, neither of which I’ve ever been asked to be by a seller or buyer.
In the main, you tend to find that larger agents favour an equal split, and smaller agents want the bigger share. That’s because they think they’re the better sales people: what they don’t consider is that they’re getting a chance on a property they wouldn’t usually be invited to. There’s no thought to the long-term benefit of the association, only the short-term pound sign.
That is an area where large corporate agents display a good mentality: they train their people that there is room for everyone; that cooperation brings greater results; that respect for your competitors works out well for the whole industry. It creates a really good, professional image when you can be generous towards your counterparts.
The sales results between the estate agency I ran and Unique panned out around 50/50. If something was fairly straightforward, we’d sell it from that local agency. If it was entirely esoteric then Unique would likely find the buyer. Something in the middle could go either way.
For me it was a no-brainer. I was running the number one agent in London Bridge: a loft-specialist with a darn fine image and incredible location, and yet we struggled to get invited into the apartments at Bankside Lofts and a couple of other key buildings. Unique, on the other hand, were getting calls all the time.
Very soon, we became the main choice for anyone looking to sell their apartment in these developments, which in turn generated calls to some seriously extraordinary living spaces that I would never otherwise have seen. I can’t tell you how many sales we made together, but it was a lot. Meanwhile all the other agents would fight among themselves for what were really the scraps of the marketplace.
So we’re glad that co-operation is back in vogue. Agents only get paid for successful sales (unless they’re one of the steadily-going-bust, charge-up-front types), so it really does pay to work together to get property sold, rather than fight against each other to keep people where they are.