Knowledge of the Market

Published: 03/06/2019

In the olden days of maybe 10 or 15 years ago, it could be argued that the only thing estate agents needed to demonstrate their knowledge of the market was a customer sitting in front of them. They could talk the talk in the reasonably certain knowledge that they had all the latest market information and the customer, well, didn’t.

Then the Land Registry made its data available for anyone who wanted to explore it and companies like Rightmove could put a “Check nearby prices button” on their website, heralding the era of informed customers. Although an agent’s information may still be more up-to-date than some published sources, customers now feel less inclined to just take their word for it.

The good news is that agents have access to exactly the same comprehensive data and can add it to the detailed knowledge that is their bread and butter. And, while it is true that a spreadsheet of the last six months of deals will make all but the nerdiest of nerds doze off, with the right mindset and a bit of nous that spreadsheet can be brought to life.

But how do you do it? There are several tools, and almost any combination of them will help get your point across.

The first thing is to know what you are trying to get across. It might be as simple and down-to-earth as how prices compare with this time last year, or how this postcode compares with nearby areas. But there is a lot more data out there than prices. If your prospective customer is a family, then schools matter a lot, so maybe look at Ofsted ratings. For young professionals restaurants might matter, while pet owners might wish to know if they are looking at good dog walking country.

When faced with a lot of data it is tempting to get sucked into looking at the big picture and long-term trends. While this sort of thing – long term price trends, say – is interesting, the better story is more often found in the little things that stick out, that make you go ‘Wow, that’s interesting’. It could be anything from the obvious – like a hot spot in a competing market making yours look much more affordable – to the less obvious: a flurry of restaurant openings suggesting that trend setters are eyeing your market and looking for a meal. Such nuggets give a richer flavour of a market than dry house price data, important as that is.

A data point, or even a trend, is rarely interesting in its own right, other than to experts. Others need a bit of context to see why something matters. It could be other data – prices against jobs, say – or it could be something anecdotal that gives food for thought. For instance, a news story, whether it is serious (Europe, maybe) or not so serious (what impact does the name Archie have on house prices?). Context makes things engaging and holds interest.

The best story needs a good setting. Spreadsheets may make clever graphs, but we live in the age of the infographic, so think what picture might help get your point across. A quick image search on Google gives hundreds of examples of how infographics add punch to a message.

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