One thing I’ve never quite understood is, why do I never listen to my own advice?

Take this example. My wife and I were considering a move a few years ago. Once we’d decided that it was a serious possibility, talked about where we would look and what we needed from our next home, researched what we could afford to spend, only then did I think about how we would find our new dream home. 

I’m an estate agent so what was my first thought? I need to register with some agents! That’s what I constantly tell everyone else to do isn’t it?

Well as an estate agent registering yourself as an applicant with other agents isn’t always as effective as you might think.

I had a mental picture of a smiling me all excited about moving, talking to the agents in town I was moving to, registering my details with them, explaining what I wanted and then as I turned to leave their office my imagination pictured a crumpling of paper and I almost heard the little ‘ding’ of it hitting the waste paper bin.

Agents don’t really like having others in their profession on the mailing list. Why? Well it’s a competitive world in estate agency so why would you show your portfolio to a rival and open your housing stock up for plundering. Are agents really like that?

What did I actually do?

I did what around 80% of people do and I went online and registered with a property portal, in fact I registered with more than one and then…?

Well this was a few years ago now and my smart phone wasn’t quite as smart as the one I have today. Each day I would trundle off to work and do my thing helping people find buyers for their homes. I’d spend a large part of my day phoning buyers to tell them about what I felt would be the perfect new property for them to fall in love with. I’d be out listing properties, doing viewings, receiving offers from excited couples and agreeing sales. I was doing a great job house hunting – for everyone else.

At night I’d get home late and worn out, have dinner and then just before bed I’d check my computer for emails with signs of new property to look at.

Had our new dream home come to the market? Invariably not. Once or twice I might send an email; you agents know those ones, they’re generally sent between 10pm and 1.30am and are eagerly sat awaiting attention when you turn on your computer in the morning.

What did my emails generally ask for? A set of details to be posted was my most common request. I’m old fashioned and I like to hold a piece of paper and read it. Strangely I don’t have a printer at home. What did I get sent? Have you guessed it? An emailed pdf to be printed out! Guys, if any of you out there are still doing this, please stop right now!

I spent 12 months in an endless cycle of checking emails and getting frustrated that nothing was coming up for me. I didn’t think we were so hard to please. Yes we viewed a couple of properties in desperation but we were clutching at straws.

Then one morning I actually began to listen to myself for a change. Why?

I’d just discovered another one of my competitors registered as an applicant and had thought, why do they bother? Why not just go on the internet and see our housing stock?

Why not? Because they knew what I knew; not all of our properties make it to the internet. Light bulb moment?

Why don’t we put all of them on the internet? Because we have buyers registered already for whom a particular property may be a perfect match and those buyers may be a perfect match for our clients’ needs. It’s how things worked before the internet after all.

Those agents were on my mailing list because they knew they might miss something if they relied solely on the property portals, in the same way I knew that for my business research where I worked. So why had I forgotten that when it came to doing a personal search for my wife and I.

The reason people were finding properties to buy and we weren’t was simply that I had ignored the most basic thing. Talk to a good estate agent, take time to explain what you want and why. Work with them, understand that they can’t make four hundred phone calls every day but they can make a lot of calls and you’d like to be one of them. Remember, you may not be the first person to see the portals alert to a new listing, your search criteria may be too vague or too restrictive, even how the agent lists the property for the portal can vary and affect the matches.

Talk to estate agents. They have a living to make and need to sell property, they want to do the best they can for their client and you may just be the perfect buyer. A great estate agent will not only view you as a buyer but will think of you as a future client and will want to help you and build a lasting relationship. Estate agents are human and most of them are lovely, work with them and your house hunting experience can be so much better.

I generally know the calls that are internet based enquiries and too often agents respond with ‘I’m so sorry but that’s already sold!’ Have you had that said to you?

Admittedly we don’t get to ring everyone straight away but wouldn’t you much rather give yourself the chance to hear ‘Hi I’m calling because I’ve got a great property just come on’ from an estate agent than the alternative?

Rely on the portals alone and you may just miss your dream home.

How did my wife and i get on? Well we moved nearly six years ago, we went old school eventually and I have a great estate agent to thank for finding me somewhere we absolutely love being!

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