22nd April 2014

It seems that increasing complaints against estate agents have sparked the UK government to take the appropriate steps. In order to ensure greater protection for tenants and lease holders from dishonest agents, they’ve decided to make it compulsory for those engaged in estate agency work to sign up to an approved redress scheme later in 2014.

The three approved schemes – The Property Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services Property and The Property Redress Scheme – were announced by Housing Minister Kris Hopkins last week. Letting agents will be required to join one of the three mechanisms as part of a government package of measures aimed at providing more robust protection to tenants.

The services will provide independent investigation of complaints concerning undisclosed fees or inadequate service, and provide compensation to tenants and leaseholders if a complaint is upheld.

Hopkins said that some 3,000 agents, or around 40% of the profession, are yet to sign up with one of the three schemes. They are now encouraged to do so before this becomes a legal requirement.

The move, which comes amidst a 23% rise in complaints related to estate agents’ unfair practices in 2013, will ensure that tenants and lease holders are treated fairly by their letting agent, giving them a “straightforward route” to receiving compensation if they get a poor deal, the minister said. While some agents provide adequate service, some still overcharge people, harming the industry’s reputation as a result, according to Hopkins.

The government is also launching a new voluntary code of practice for private landlords, a new help to rent guide, a model three-year tenancy agreement and additional guidance for councils as part of its measures to protect tenants and their rights.

Have you ever had a bad experience with an estate agent that you would want to make a complaint about?

Category: General | Comments: 0

21st April 2014

We’ve had a problem this week. A customer listed his home for sale with us in Dunfermline and ordered a for sale board as part of his package.

But unusually, our board contractor’s local fixer has let us down badly by failing to erect the board within five days of us ordering it and then, to add salt to the wound, put up a SOLD board instead of a for sale board (for the record, our contractor is usually excellent and is responsible for looking after some 1500 board jobs each year for us as well as for numerous other agents, including hundreds of high street companies).

The last straw was Wednesday when the latest promise for remedying this issue came and went without the board being changed.

Understandably, the customer has complained. He’s become more than a little frustrated.

So, in the spirit of taking our approach to customer service very seriously indeed, this is what we did…

One of our team was dispatched from our base at Brentwood, Essex to Stansted airport this morning (Bank Holiday Monday) with a pair of shiny new ‘for sale’ slips in his bag…

2014-04-21 09.45.14

 

Then, we put him on a plane to Edinburgh…

IMG_3596

And then in a taxi to Rosyth where our client’s property is located…

In a quest to locate this…

IMG_0160

And turn in to this (albeit that we’re normally pretty good at turning for sale boards into SOLD, rather than the other way around)…

bG5bYPAJRAdlLV6AL1EoZIxHRjjOJH7k_1w8uMNpTas

So, all in a day’s work for eMoov.co.uk in going that extra mile for our customers.

About 800 miles extra to be precise.

Category: Customer Service | Comments: 0

18th April 2014

Working-on-holiday

How hands on should a boss be?

Well, judging by this week, if they truly believe in running an exceptional, competitive business then there really is no getting away from the office. Even when you’re away from the office.

On Sunday this week I flew on holiday with my family. It’s a chance for them to remember what I look like. Mostly you see, I get home in the evenings after my three small children (one aged 5 and twins of 4) have gone to bed. Mornings are a mish-mash of toothpaste, Weetabix and muddled school uniforms and that always seem to pass by at lightening speed with little time for chat. Weekends are less taxing but still seem to magnetise work related requirements more often than not.

So, holiday. A relaxing time. Or at least it should be.

Even with a very able team in place at our Brentwood HQ it seems that the boss is still in demand. Being the founder of a rapidly growing business that has customers at its very heart, there seems to be little escape from being the sounding board, the fixer or the source of much needed information despite being two thousand miles and two time zones away. Some things, it seems, just won’t wait.

Whilst attempting, for once, to do nothing this week I’ve ended up getting involved in…

A major data-feed issue with Rightmove that has prevented some of our new instructions from being displayed since Monday. An afternoon’s worth of increasingly louder calls to Rightmove and our data supplier sorted the issue eventually. And I’ve authorised free Premium Listings for the 37 customers affected by the delay…

Chasing a supplier to rectify an issue with one of our VOIP phone circuits that has decided, spitefully, to drop some of our calls here and there…

Shouting at our national sign-board contractor to whom we pay thousands of pounds a month to finally fix a board that has been erected incorrectly at a house in Fife. The customer has emailed me directly to complain and he’s right, it has taken too long to remedy despite us kicking the third party several times to attend to the problem over the past two weeks…

Tried to placate a concerned buyer whose offer has been accepted on a house but where the lender’s surveyor disagrees with the sale price…

And another buyer frustrated at our selling client being unwilling to confirm a completion date three months after the original offer was accepted. I’ve been asked to help but, to be frank, may fall short at ushering the owner out of the house against their will…

To top it all, it rained today.

I wonder if most CEOs would interrupt their vacations where it was necessary to respond to problems back at base and to reply personally to customer emails no matter what? Notwithstanding the ‘comfort’ of an Out of Office Reply being in place.

It helps to have a VERY understanding wife, too.

Inconvenient it may be but if you are serious about being number one in your industry, or even two, three or four, I don’t see that there’s any other way to be in today’s demanding business environment where the customer expects much but has an ever easier choice as to where to get it.

Still, the flight back this Sunday evening is four hours long. Assuming my little darlings sleep, I might just get a few moments to relax before facing up to the usual elbowing at the baggage carousel :-)

 

This ‘boss blog’ was delivered by Russell Quirk, Founder and CEO of eMoov.co.uk

Category: CEO musings, Estate Agency | Comments: 0

16th April 2014

Do you like a project? Or do you look for a house that needs very little work?

Well, a survey conducted on behalf of GoCompare reveals that most people in the UK look for property that needs minimal work (or one where they could preferably move straight into).

The study gathered responses from over 2,000 people, establishing that, despite TV programmes about home renovation and DIY, more than four in five (81%) of house hunters still prefer to buy a house that doesn’t require major upgrades. In addition, one in three respondents said they search only for newly-built property.

People looking to buy a new property were chiefly attracted by the great energy efficiency it offers, with over a third agreeing that new builds are better insulated and cost less to heat. Around 28% of property hunters viewed new property as maintenance-free and 24% said that their modern look was their strongest appeal.

Among respondents ready to buy a house that needs some work, 39% stated they wouldn’t mind involving themselves in a housing project such as an extension. Around a quarter said they would be happy to purchase a house that needs a major improvement.

Asked to choose between new-build or older property, 63% said they prefer to buy older properties, with 48% of them stating this was because they had larger rooms. Another 35% said it was the character and original charms that attracted them to older homes and 15% admitted they simply didn’t want to live in a newly-built house.

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to buying a property. What are yours?

Category: General | Comments: 0

11th April 2014

Really, it’s a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ scenario when it comes to the time length of buying your first home. But a brand new study by the Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Bank suggests that first-time buyers in the UK tend to underestimate the time it takes to enter the property market.

Results from the banks’ joint Annual First Time Buyers Survey show that 67% of house hunters don’t accurately estimate how long it’ll take to find their first home. In fact, the process often turns out to be up to three years longer than anticipated, according to 50% of survey respondents.

Things seem to have changed over the last 30 years; people aged 55 and over taking part in the poll were nearly three times more likely to have purchased their first property within the expected timescale than respondents in their late 20s and early 30s.

Asked to name the reasons that stalled their buying process, financial issues prevailed as the factor guiding buyers’ thinking and actions when looking for their first home. But finding the right property was also a problem, cited by around one in five respondents.

The most notable difference between buyer expectations and the actual time it takes to get onto the housing ladder was recorded in London, where 76% of house hunters said it actually took them longer. Potential house buyers in Scotland were found to be most likely to have bought their first home within the expected timeline.

Are you a home owner? If so, did the buying process take the amount of time you expected?

Category: General | Comments: 0