Making the most of the marketplace

Jake Lomberg-Williams on why Harrison James & Hardie's approach to residential estate agency benefits the house buyer and seller.

"Having seen a number of your Sold boards springing up already this year, what would be your strategy to make the most of spring / early summer demand?"

After spending my first year with the company I realised that the North Cotswold marketplace, and especially Harrison James & Hardie’s approach, doesn’t conform to the general trend and activity in sales. In fact, the autumn and winter months are often just as busy as spring and summer. Joining at the end of October 2014, it was absolutely manic from the moment I arrived all the way to Christmas - as soon as we came back in the New Year the pace picked up without missing a beat! The same was true throughout 2015 and, after an unusually quiet September, suddenly in November last year the market picked up. We agreed more than twice the number of sales we would expect at the busiest time and at a point when other agents were advising vendors to ‘rest’ their properties over winter.

As seen in our latest Spring 2017 publication, we have already been extremely busy so far in 2017. Our strategy is to make the most of any marketplace, not the time of year. What I thought I knew before I joined the company was just simple agency - that you put properties on all the right websites with a decent set of details and some nice photos, got a board up and waited for the phone calls. Not here! More often than not we will have already introduced the most likely purchaser before it even goes online. A lot of lip service is paid to the notion of ‘team’ and ‘networking’ but no one really ever works to sell another office’s stock without structure and incentives in place to do so. Teamwork is far more than a slogan here, though.

We have eleven dedicated sales people based in Bourton and Moreton but Karen organises a rota of desk-swapping with our colleagues at the sister office for a day each week, ensuring we all get to work together with a coordinated approach, sharing information on properties and applicants quite happily. Everyone benefits from every sale no matter which office, but we are all targeted on activity and rewarded according to personal performance. We have our own registered applicants but we have to make sure we contact them within 48 hours of a new instruction or price change, or they’re open game for another negotiator to approach!

As such, we all start working on who might be interested in viewing a property from the moment we are invited out. We usually have buyers poised to view before the property is launched. This means viewings are close together, generating competition and testing if the price is sensible. If so we’ll often get offers within a few days so buyers who wait until they see something online can find themselves at a real disadvantage, with negotiations already underway before they even spot the property is for sale!

Proactivity is so important. The best time to sell at the highest price is usually in the first three weeks so our approach is designed to ensure the shortest possible time on the open market. We base marketing prices on recent comparable sales and on our knowledge of potential purchasers, taking into account the preferred timescales for our vendors. In a choice-led marketplace it’s not always the price but the purchasers’ flexibility that determines the right deal; sometimes the fact that a buyer is local or has a young family can rank above other considerations. This is always the vendor’s prerogative but we thoroughly investigate every aspect - from finances, chain details and motivation to intended timescales - to ascertain that the buyer is willing and able before instructing solicitors, accordingly. 

This is just the start. Sales progression is where the skills of the sales team really underpin the strategy. Steven Buchanan knows all the pitfalls and sticking points that can occur with chains and mortgages to undo a transaction, especially with period properties that attract lots of interest but can unearth issues at survey, for example. We are all responsible for helping with our own sales pipeline but he is continually checking progress right along the chain every day, delving more deeply into a problem in order to solve it. If a buyer starts inexplicably to drag their heels or if we discover problems down the chain, we will work to find a back-up purchaser - if we don’t already have one. We have very low cancellation rates compared with other agencies but even so most of our fall-throughs are re-agreed within a week or two.

None of this happens by accident – it’s a combination of a whole team approach, long experience, consistency, knowledge, skill and intelligent thinking that makes this company so good at what it does.

Jake Lomberg-Williams MNAEA worked in estate agency before going on to complete a degree in Property and Land Management at the Royal Agricultural University, joining Harrison James & Hardie in 2014. With superlative service standards provided by an experienced, friendly, consistent and professionally qualified sales and lettings team, the company has been the leading local agency in the North Cotswolds for the best part of two decades. To find out more about the company’s innovative marketing strategies, telephone:

Bourton on the Water: 01451 822977 | Stow on the Wold: 01451 833170  | Moreton in Marsh: 01608 651000 


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