Zen and the Art of Property Selling
"Quality is the parent, the source of all subjects and objects." - Robert Pirsig
When you buy your clothes, your shoes, your furniture; anything valuable to you, once you’ve set a budget (i.e. I can afford ‘x’), the price within ‘x’ is no longer the defining reason to buy or not to buy; it’s surely based on the quality of the product.
In ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’, a classic of contemporary American literature, Robert Pirsig looks at a life well lived and suggests that what gives life value is ‘Quality’. Quality is not an empirical, scientific value: you cannot calculate it; you have to experience it in more than 3 dimensions.
What though is the relevance to estate agency? My argument here is that strangely, some sellers seem to no longer use this approach in choice of agent, but go for the ‘Never mind the Quality, feel the Width’ approach to dealing with their most important financial asset. Why do people do this?
When you go to put your property on the market, you have to go through the obligatory, often painful routine of inviting agents into your beloved home to compare their offer and for them to ‘sell’ you their services. From my many meetings with clients, it’s not usually a lot of fun. The common word I hear is ‘flannel’, not the face washing kind!
When an agent tells you a massive price and a low fee, do you get that feeling of ‘Quality’ or do you feel you are being set up?
How would you find and define ‘Quality’ in an estate agent? If you spend some real time with the agent and dig deep enough, you may find it. Of course, if you spend that time and do not see it, go to the next one and investigate further. It has to be done...
It’s almost certainly not down to their company car, their shop front, their suits, their brochures or their bigging themselves up. It will be down to their professionalism, their ability to listen to you and respond to your needs, their knowledge of the local market, their honest understanding of property values, how to compare and contrast areas, streets, architecture, amenities; their knowledge of Brighton & Hove: what’s happening, what will interest buyers, not just their own interests. The conversation could even extend beyond Balotelli’s balletic football, to what goes on during the Brighton Fringe Festival, what the Universities are up to, how the Council is dealing with the transport challenges in Brighton and Hove, any number of things buyers want to know. Where the schools are; what are the relevant bus routes; where you can get a cheap, quality meal or splash out and so on. Imagine a useful, effective conversation between agent and buyer, where the buyer feels more au fait with the City after meeting the agent. Your buyers will want to be fully informed so your agent needs to be too.
As the person entrusting your property to them to sell it for you, wouldn’t you be pleased? The buyers certainly will be, having had the ‘other’ estate agent experience too many times already. You know the one: ‘We’ve lots of people looking at it later so if you’re interested, you’d better make an offer now’, ‘you need to see our financial advisor so we can qualify your offer’, ‘the owner has said they’ll take an offer on it’, ‘I’ve another appointment in 10 minutes so please look around quickly’, and so on.
If you want your estate agent experience to have quality, ask the right questions when you meet and let your head and your heart work together – it’s real life...and of course, if you haven’t already, Pirsig’s book is definitely worth reading.
Photograph is of Robert Pirsig and his son on their trip.