James Forrester, owner of multiple property owner and local property expert, writes for Birmingham Property News about clients being left behind by the big boy agents.
Countrywide, owners of Bairstow Eves, John D Wood, Abbotts and Mann & Co, have refused to re-open all of their branches despite the shackles being removed from the property market a week ago. And there are rumours that Spicer haart may be about to close a significant number of their 100+ offices and push their staff off a cliff into self-employment.
You have to wonder what their customers think of all of this. At any one time these lumbering, faceless brands will have tens of thousands of homes listed for sale by eager sellers. Sellers that want to move home and often need to move.
Covid-19 is challenging enough for us all without being in a position where in addition to negotiating health, finances and social distancing, missing loved ones and worse, perhaps coming to terms with the loss of some – as a person longing to find a buyer from your home you’ve been left high and dry by the ‘big’ estate agency firm that you trusted to get things done. Your plans to get your kids into a better school or to downsize, move jobs or to release some equity – trashed. And all because the estate agency juggernaut that you chose in good faith has not bothered to wake up from its furlough snooze as yet.
There’s always been a two tiered estate agency sector and in general an independent agent will be more in touch with its customers, the market and sentiment on the ground. However the Covid crisis seems to me to have put even more distance between the lethargy of the big-boys and the more agile and affective independent firms such as Barrows and Forrester.
Do you agree? Or is it ok that despite having eight weeks to plan their re-opening, Bairstow Eves and their stable-mates seem to have only just realised that one day they would re-open and are now yawning slowly into life to get their offices ‘prepared’. Customer first? It doesn’t appear so.