Category Archives: Social Media

Is my agent, local, an expert or even legal?! How do I check?

Dedicated to ‘Cyberduck’

Most people buying or selling a home assume that the agent they are dealing with probably has to be qualified or licensed in some way, knows the local area and has some experience of the local market and the job they do (especially if that agent describes themselves as an expert, local, property professional or, a ‘maven‘).

Sadly, many people are badly mistaken in this view. There are very few legal barriers to entry as an estate agent and absolutely no requirement to have any formal qualifications (though they certainly exist and many agents choose to take them)

To visit someones’ home or property investment as an employed agent to provide marketing and pricing advice, to (possibly) conduct viewings, actively try to sell that property, conduct negotiations on your behalf which may run into the millions of pounds and, then, to successfully coax it through the archaic and combative English conveyancing system (and equally bad Scottish system) requires no legal checks, no qualifications and no experience. No wonder there are some horror stories out there. There is no definitive legal definition of an expert or ‘local’ (though the ASA is currently looking at whether or not such claims by some agents may be misleading)

robot football fail gif

The Crown Prosecution Service says this about what defines an ‘expert’:

It is a matter for the court to rule upon in each case. However for the purposes of this guidance, an expert is defined as: “a person whose evidence is intended to be tendered before a court and who has relevant skill or knowledge achieved through research, experience or professional application within a specific field sufficient to entitle them to give evidence of their opinion and upon which the court may require independent, impartial assistance”.


However, I would argue that LinkedIn profiles showing someone was working in the fitness and entertainment business one week and describing themselves as a property expert the next, does not classify them as an ‘expert’.

As a self employed agent, franchisee, or as a sole trader, there is greater protection for consumers but, few know where or how to check. This post aims to show the reader how and where to look.

The following list is not exhaustive but covers the basic requirements that a customer should be able to expect from an estate agency business or franchise/ licensee.

“if carrying out estate agency work by way of business then you must register with HMRC under the Money Laundering Regulations” – HMRC Money Laundering Team. May 2017

  • Agents must, by law, be members of an approved redress scheme such as The Property Ombudsman (TPOS)
  • Agents must register with HMRC to help prevent money laundering
  • Agents must (usually*) be registered with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) for data protection “failure to register is a criminal offence”
  • Agents must have suitable public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance (TPOS)

How do I check my agent is local and legal?

  1. To search the TPOS website find a member section enter the name of the company and area (e.g. for my loyal reader Cyberduck from Twitter, I’ll  use the example of Purplebricks – Cornwall) – If they are registered you should also check how long have they been trading/ been a member by contacting TPOS
  2. To check if your personal data will be held and processed correctly, you need to check the ICO website (you’ll only need the postcode from ‘1’ above to check).
  3. If there are more than one company listed at that address, you can check which one by looking on companies house here (make sure you also try the registered office postcode as well as the address in ‘1’ above). This will also enable you to see how long that business has been trading and compare the commencement of trading dates with membership of TPOS in ‘1’, ICO registration in ‘2’ and HMRC registration in ‘4’.
  4. To check if the company in question is complying with HMRC money laundering regulations for registration, click here 
  5. Not a legal requirement but, a good place to start is to check to see if the agent is a licensed and protected Propertymark agent

Propertmark logos before and after v4 JF

 

MAKE A COMPLAINT TO THE ICO

*Dependent on how they process personal data. Here is an example of the ICOs’ reference guide for a typical franchised agent.Registration self assessment ICO

Purplebricks – What is really going on?

Laurel and hardy sad gifPurplebricks is one of a raft of new-breed estate agency companies making some bold and questionable claims in the property market at present but how many of these claims stand close scrutiny and are they even trading within the law?

(This post has been updated on a number of occasions and these are all located at the bottom of the page – Last updated – major update 14/05/2017). Given the amount and length of some updates, this post may be split at some point to make for easier reading. CW

25/08/2017 – See latest related post – “Attempted intimidation by a PLC or fair comment?

03.08.17 BREAKING Purplebricks has now been subject to an in-depth investigation by BBC Radio4s’ ‘You and Yours‘ consumer program, as well as BBC Watchdog, forcing Michael Bruce, the CEO of Purplebricks, onto the defensive. Further complaints have been aired by consumers on Social Media and more is likely to break on this story over the coming weeks.

Over the years there have been many businesses who have seen what they believed to be an opportunity to change the property market in the UK (more specifically England and Wales) but, despite making bold claims to the press and investors, have failed spectacularly. Remember The Prudential?

In the late eighties it was the insurance companies wanting to sell endowment policies on the back of mortgages with cross selling opportunities (remember endowment policies?).

More latterly, a new raft of entrants have leapt onto the scene throwing the current corporate buzzwords of ‘disruption’ and ‘proptech’. These companies are the online* agents, promising allegedly huge savings for consumers with the same or even better service than the traditional full-service estate agents and big profits for investors.

In this post, I focus mainly on Purplebricks as the largest of these firms however, I also refer to other firms and the model in general too. In 2014, Purplebricks promised investors it would have made £25 Million profit by the end of 2016 (though these figures were subsequently challenged by PB . However, Hardman & Co predicted more modest profits of £8 Million EBITDA by this financial year-end).

Fast forward to December 2016 and PB issued a statement claiming that they had made just £300,000 profit using the EBIDTA method of calculation for the half-year results, some way short of the previous figure. Their full year-end figures are due out on the 29th of June for their financial year-end April the 30th but many industry experts believe PB will have to work hard to have grown their income in a property market where instruction volumes have fallen so significantly and the market share of the online sector as a whole has shrunk from a claimed (but unverified) 6% in mid 2016 to a verified 4% in March 2017. Readers may also wish to see the sector claims in light of other predictions from EasyProperty and eMoov of market dominance by 2017-18 with 20% or higher market share by sector.

Are Purplebricks and the call-centre agents heading for a tougher time in the press and with the authorities?

Those who have read my blog or Twitter feed will know I have called out a number of call-centre agents over their claims on many occasions resulting in a number of rulings made against them by the ASA. Whilst it is bad enough that this sector appears to have more than its fair share of complaints upheld about misleading the public and, by extension, investors, there are other, potentially more serious issues that may yet play out.

In the case of Purplebricks, there is an ongoing issue of whether their self-described LPEs (Local Property Experts) are classed in law as local or, indeed, as ‘experts’. Purplebricks have since removed this claim but were only recently advertising for new LPEs’ to join the firm with an immediate start but with “no experience required”

Certainly, pre-IPO, PB had publicly claimed that all of their LPEs’ were “qualified estate agents”. It would be reasonable that the public or investors may make a transactional decision on the assumption that such a statement would mean that the LPEs’ all held formal industry specific qualifications such as these NVQs‘.  However CEO Mr Bruce, himself a qualified solicitor, knew full well that this was not the case at all (extracts of the correspondence between the author and Mr Bruce at the time have been lodged with Purplebricks solicitors, Schillings).

Then there is the matter of whether Purplebricks and their LPEs’ have been trading legally. Purplebricks maintains that all of their LPEs’ are self-employed franchisees (PBs’ service agreement refers to utilising the British Franchise associations code of conduct in the determination of any disputes. See also HMRC update below) .

However prior to June 2016, none of these LPEs’ were individually registered with a property redress scheme, the Information Commissioner’s Office or HMRC for money laundering; all of which are legal requirements under the 1979 Estate agents Act. The author is currently awaiting a formal response on the LPEs’ legal employment status but believes that whether they are classed as formally employed or self-employed, it will leave Purplebricks looking at a possible investigation into their legal status surrounding trading, redress, money laundering, the sale of loans, VAT and associated employment and tax issues.

The claimed savings the public can make are also worthy of closer scrutiny, with PB seemingly very clear to muddy the waters and avoid using their own conveyancing partners firms data in its comparisons whose published estate agency commission figures** are considerably lower than the figures used by PB to estimate the alleged savings made by consumers.

Not only is the savings comparison flawed in its methodology (it is not a like for like comparison) PB claims savings on sold properties but steadfastly refuses to make figures available for how many consumers pay to sell but fail to do so – estimated to be circa £24 Million PA. Consumer and property journalists are now taking this seriously with many asking PB to shed light on their figures.

#PortalJuggling In a recent report on this activity, a number of well-known high street names including Purplebricks were mentioned as having very large numbers of property listings that were apparently anomalous. The author wishes to make it clear that he is not claiming or implying that any of those firms mentioned were deliberately undertaking such an activity merely that there were a large number of anomalous properties highlighted which bear closer inspection.

More disturbing is the use of heavyweight lawyers to silence critics or negative reviews. Purplebricks claims over 5,000 positive reviews yet a very high number of these are from unverified customers. Negative reports from un-verified customers however, are often removed within the hour.  Purplebricks recently removed their entire Facebook review page which certainly did NOT reflect five-star rating on Trustpilot and other review sites posters are not so complimentary about the PLC.

The author has been contacted by a number of customers who allege they were threatened with legal action for making negative posts on Social Media and on review sites and has screenshot evidence of these claims. There are also screenshots of reviews (since removed) by un-verified customers that allege they were not informed that by deferring payment of the Purplebricks fee, they would be signed up to a loan agreement with Close Brothers.

Furthermore, the author himself received a strongly worded email from heavyweight law firm Schillings threatening legal action for raising inconvenient facts and asking reasonable questions. All of the points raised by Schillings were rebutted with no further correspondence being received.

LPE numbers. LPEs’ were and continued to be recruited in large numbers however, what is not clear is how many of these are replacements for other LPEs’ who haven’t made the cut. Whilst the author does not have empirical evidence, there is strong circumstantial evidence echoed by other analysts that the turnover of LPEs’ is very high, suggesting that the promised rewards have not been forthcoming. Certainly, a cursory look at companies house suggests that there are not many who could be regarded as ‘long-term’ franchisees.

With Purplebricks year-end due within the next couple of weeks, there are many more questions unanswered than settled. Why, having made a categorical statement on BBCs’ money box that Purplebricks completes on 88% of all instructions, has Mr Bruce failed to provide any evidence for these figures?

A simple question Purplebricks. For every 100 customers who listed with you in the last financial year (your fee earning event) how many went on to sell (legally complete, not just sold stc) having had the buyer found via Purplebricks?  (There are a great many properties listed as under offer and sold by Purplebricks which are also listed as sold by other agents with a later listing date, suggesting that a significant number of sellers pay up front for Purplebricks, who fail to sell and then switch to high street agents who go on to successfully sell the property (legally complete).

This means 68 customers paid at least £57,732 at a minimum of £849 per listing (excluding  any additional services such as viewings/ deferred payment charges etc.) but did not sell. What was their average ‘saving’? Purplebricks do not seem to factor these customers losses into their heavily advertised ‘savings’.

With Purplebricks aiming for 3,000 property listings per month nationally, this means (if these figures were repeated across the UK evenly) that 75% of these customers would pay in the hope of selling but fail to actually sell within a 12 month period. That equates to those customers paying a whopping £24,165,000 without selling.

The difference in price between the original quoted average asking price on listing (£295,514) and the average final price quoted when the property was marked as exchanged (£228,145) is a whopping £ 67,368* – 23% below the listing figure.

And the news doesn’t appear to be much better for those that did go on to exchange. Of the 25% who did exchange contracts, the difference between the average prices from all of the original listings and of all of the exchanged properties is £67,368* per property. A total difference in price of £1,549,464. Repeated nationally (using the same average figures as in West Cornwall) this could equate to a £606,312,000 difference between asking and selling figures for the 25% of customers who were successful in selling.
*A misnomer as all agents are online. A more accurate description of these firms is ‘call-centre’ estate agents as they work from a centralised or regionalised office with no public access.

Update 17.4.17

Not the only example I’ve recently been sent/ seen but, this persons linkedin profile also suggests they went from zero estate agency experience to being a “local property expert” within a few hours.

UPDATE 21.4.17

Using publicly available data from Zoopla and Rightmove for the period Apr 21, 2016 – Apr 20, 2017 inclusive (the last 12 months) in the following postcode areas*** there were a total of 3,947 new instructions, of which, Purplebricks listed 91 (a 2.3% market share).

The average price quoted on listing by Purplebricks was £295,514

Purplebricks exchanged on just 23 properties during this time (giving a sale success rating of 25% or, a 75% failure rate. Take your pick)

UPDATE 24.4.17 For transparency and fairness, I have been asked to include the figures for all other agents success/ failure ratio during the same period. Between the same dates and exactly the same criteria, the complete dataset (including Purplebricks) exchanged on a total of 2,441 properties, a 62% instruction to sales ratio. Please note, the 38% of those customers who did not sell would, in the vast majority of cases, have not paid a penny to an estate agent.

So, using this data set, paying to list your home with Purplebricks suggests you have a 25% chance of selling. Whereas if you opt for the no-sale,no-fee model you have an average 62% chance of selling.

As has been pointed out elsewhere, when those who fail to sells’ costs are factored in to the lucky 25% who do, the cost to the average consumer who lists their home is almost identical between full-service agents and Purplebricks.

UPDATE: 28/04/2017 – I have now received a response from HMRC Money Laundering Team. At present, I can say no more until I have received further responses from other organisations.

In the meantime, if you wish to personally check whether an agent needs to be registered individually for money laundering as a franchisee (and by extension, individual redress scheme membership) HMRC Money Laundering Team can be contacted on 03000591009 mlrcit@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

UPDATE 15/05/2017 – HMRC have now confirmed that all agents operating as a franchise who are sole traders or limited companies in their own rights ARE classed as separate businesses under HMRC classification and, as such, must be registered for Money Laundering with HMRC. I believe that this classification confirms previous assertions that such firms/ sole traders (‘LPEs”) who were not registered were doing so in contravention of a legal requirement.

I also believe that this clarification strongly suggests that all of these businesses were required to have had individual membership of an approved redress scheme such as The Property Ombudsman Scheme (TPOS). I have been informed by TPOS that many of these firms are now registered however, that they were not until recently. Again, this adds weight to the argument that these firms and their parent firm had been trading in contravention of the law.

At the recent #PROPTECH conference in London, property data company GetAgent.co.uk claimed that it had researched Purplebricks figures and found  that over 40% of all Purplebricks customers failed to sell with that company despite having paid over £1,000 up-front, on average, in that expectation (Source: estateagenttoday.co.uk – https://www.estateagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2017/5/purplebricks-blasted-by-rivals-at-industry-technology-conference ) The author estimates that this figures represents over £12 Million is lost by consumers who paid in the expectation selling their homes but did not.

Data protection – Purplebricks franchisees (LPEs’) are predominantly individual companies registered at Companies House or sole traders. It follows (but I have no evidence to substantiate this assertion) that they take, hold, process and share information with sub-franchisees, other companies, the franchisor (Purplebricks PLC) and, separately, Close Brothers PLC and, MyHomeMoveConveyancing/ Premier Property Lawyers etc.

Of the fifteen LPEs’ and head territory owners (has sub-franchisees under them) I checked today (and have done so previously), not one is registered with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

The ICO process to see if you need to register is quite clear and simple https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/register/ as is their warning: “Failure to register is a criminal offence”. Below are two screenshots of the process I followed prior to posting this update.

ICO ‘do you need to register’ process


ICO register of data controllers

 


*The difference in asking prices and selling prices may not be a true reflection of the price difference between asking and selling prices of the few properties that sold and could be explained by more highly priced homes simply not selling.

 

**Purplebricks conveyancing partner is the largest property conveyancer by volume in the UK. Accordingly, it has arguably the most accurate database of fees paid by agents in the UK. In 2015 Stephen Hayter Sales Director of My Home Move, published two articles which appear at odds with Purplebricks recently claimed average agents rates. The average percentage rates in 2015 were reported to be under downward pressure at that point and there is every reason to suppose that the average fee charged for a successful sale by a full-service agent in the England and Wales is now closer to 1% than the 1.8% or more claimed in many adverts.
***TR12 TR12 6 TR12 7 TR13 TR13 0 TR13 3 TR13 8 TR13 9 TR14 TR14 0 TR14 7 TR14 8 TR14 9 TR17 TR17 0 TR18 TR18 2 TR18 3 TR18 4 TR18 5 TR18 9 TR19 TR19 6 TR19 7 TR20 TR20 8 TR20 9 TR26 TR26 1 TR26 2 TR26 3 TR26 9 TR27 TR27 4 TR27 5 TR27 6 TR27 9

IMG_0071


About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall and was included in the Daily Telegraphs’ list of the UK’s top 20 best small estate agents “who go above and beyond to help their customers” in 2013. He is currently championing the fight against #PortalJuggling in the media along with a number of other agents, journalists and agency suppliers.

He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco.

A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards for estate agents in the UK.
No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter
Chris has previously competed in the National Laser sailing championships and, as a Sabreur with a top 300 UK ranking in fencing. A long-standing member of the Territorial Army; in 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade but was medically evacuated back to the UK before deploying to his forward base with his unit and is now medically discharged from the army.

Is now a good time to put my property up for sale or rent?

Don’t worry too much if interest levels are dropping in your home at the moment; it happens every Year. Here is a graphic illustration of when people search for ‘property’ and ‘property to buy’ on Google.

Searches by day/ volume on Google for 'property' and 'property to buy'

Searches by day/ volume on Google for ‘property’ and ‘property to buy’

However, if you ARE thinking of selling, now can be a great time to put your home on the market.

  • Fewer people are looking but those who are looking are FAR more serious buyers
  • Many less serious sellers take their property OFF the market at this time of year, meaning yours has a better chance of being seen and SOLD
  • THE PEAK PROPERTY INTEREST SEARCH DAYS OF THE YEAR are the few days after Christmas day and the New Year. Make sure your home is already uploaded with a good agent in order to capitalise on that SURGE!

If you are serious about selling, there are some serious buyers out there. Switched on agents and sellers know that immediately after Christmas there is a surge in buying and renting activity

This is also true of rental properties. Ask any letting agent worth their salt and they will tell you that the post-Christmas holiday period always sees a MASSIVE surge in demand for property to rent! Make sure your portfolio is already and on with a good agent who is open to deal with demand

I welcome feedback so please feel free to leave constructive criticisms or ask questions below. If you could also take a second to rate my blog and pass it on to others who you think may find it interesting that would be great. Thanks.

About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards for estate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter and lives in Penzance.

In his spare time; Chris likes to keep fit and was a long-standing member of the Territorial Army. In 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade.

The PDQ ‘social media week’ in numbers 12/10/13

The PDQ ‘social media week’ in numbers

This weeks figures show that whilst the usual seasonal slowdown in property searches has begun, our social media presence continues to grow, giving greater coverage and interaction with our customers properties than on Rightmove or Zoopla.

Also this week, we have run a small experiment to test how effective Social Media can be for marketing a property. The screen grab below, shows the 7 and 14 days search result figures from Rightmove for just one of our properties as the top half of the image. We also posted the same property on Facebook as a featured ‘property of the day’. The results of which are shown in the lower half of the image, (though only showing the first four days of the posts life).

What is clear, is that although the Facebook post only had data from just four days, over the course of that short time, our customer benefited from a further 2,200 additional post views on Facebook as well as the 1,400 searches on Rightmove.

Facebook post view numbers spanked Rightmove’s search numbers, almost equaling 14 days of search results on Rightmove in just four days! It now seems clear that a well-developed an engaged Social Media presence is crucial to ensure a property is reaching the widest possible audience.

RM v FB Rightmove v Facebook

Rightmove results v Facebook results

The graphic below shows our total Social Media statistics including Twitter and WordPress etc

PDQ Estates Ltd on Squareberry 12.10.13

KEY POINTS:
PDQ’s social media statistics:
187 NEW fans this week
6,973 people follow us on Social Media
Over 184 THOUSAND post views this week
Over 1.85 MILLION* post views this month

The following figures are taken from Rightmove’s ‘demand report’ (the total number of searches for property in the whole last month on Rightmove in the following areas)

Helston 23,940
Penzance 38,111
St. Ives 65,938
Total 127,989

When compared to our Social Media statistics above, it is further evidence that Social Media is now overtaking portals as the best way to advertise property and engage potential buyers and tenants

I welcome feedback so please feel free to leave constructive criticisms or ask questions below. If you could also take a second to rate my blog and pass it on to others who you think may find it interesting that would be great. Thanks.

About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards for estate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter Married to Amanda, they live in Penzance with their adult children and three spaniels. In his spare time; Chris likes to keep fit and is a long-standing member of the Territorial Army. In 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade.

Chris Wood 27.09.13

The @Zoopla #ZPP100 ‘game’

Is the @Zoopla #ZPP100 losing its value?

In a recent post, I wrote about how the #ZPP100 could be a useful benchmark to help decide whether your estate agent was able to market your home using one of the most powerful mediums in the world; Social Media.

Whilst I haven’t fundamentally changed my mind on this, the very competitive nature of the #zpp100 seems to have, in itself, created a problem.  Before the list came into being, there were a number of, less publicised lists that showed a range of agents and agency suppliers who scored highly on peer index and Klout etc through, in the main, the fact that they were widely followed and quoted for their property knowledge and opinions. However, since the list came into being and, it’s usefulness as a means of increasing business prestige, personal ego and business levels has became apparent, it now appears that the list is being ‘gamed’.

What do I mean by this?

In simple terms, the #ZPP100 has a fatal flaw. It uses a relatively simple measure to assess score. Don’t get me wrong; simple can be good but, ‘simple’ is often open to willful/ cynical abuse and, simple just doesn’t do ‘subtle’ very well.

Let’s take the scoring. Klout uses a relatively simple algorithm to assess its score which it updates at around 16.00 hrs GMT every day. The scores are based on a certain number of points for a re-tweet (RT) or shares on Facebook, a certain number for number of followers (and followers to following ratio), a certain number for tweets favourited (‘likes’ on Facebook) and, for engagement etc. It also adds extra points if the people who like, share or RT a persons posts are, themselves, highly ranked on Klout. So far so good.

What Klout DOESN’T do, is assess what a persons posts are about or, whether someones followers are genuine or ‘bought’. For example. If I wanted to cynically increase my score on the Zoopla leader-board, I could Tweet all day about Justin Bieber or another high trending subject or personality and I could pretty much guarantee that my Tweet would be picked up and run with by a very large number of people; thus pushing up my score as an ‘influential estate agent’. But; would I still be an influential, knowledgeable estate agent or, just someone who makes a clever noise?

I could, just as easily, buy a load of new followers for my Twitter account (I’ve seen spam mail offering me this option for as little as a fiver for 5,000 followers!). This too, would have an almost instantaneous positive effect on my score. Another way of gaming the system might be to tweet or mention big name influencers who will almost always tweet back (corporate #SM account managers are required to ensure that mentions by customers are responded to promptly and treated politely; and so, will usually respond and engage with even relatively way-off-topic subjects, rather than be seen to be ignoring someone). Any such conversation will give an immense short-term boost to the score of anyone who employs such a tactic or, a good long-term strategy to keep a regular increase going.

I would like to say that this isn’t happening and that this blog is a ‘what could be’, rather than, what I believe it to be; a ‘what is’. But consider this:

  • Klout scores generally increase slowly over time and, the higher you get, the more difficult it is to increase and keep that increase. Getting from 0 to 50 is a relatively quick process if you are using social media regularly. Getting from 50-60 takes a little more time and, once you get into the 60’s, your progress is usually measured in increases of 0.5 or less a day (and that’s if you are doing well and working hard at it). To illustrate this, see the attached graphic using the Klout API to see how the top 15’s scores change over the period of a day (a daily average change of just 0.12 across the board).
  • Is it not odd, then, when some people in the top 100 make seemingly massive jumps up the leader-board and their scores increase by factors that are several hundred percent above the norm?
  • Look a little closer at a few of these Twitter lines, follower numbers and scores and it would appear that, at best, their influence score is not exclusively based on property market knowledge*. This is not to say that these people are not experienced, professional agents, as I am sure they all are but, it does rather discredit the scoring system which aims to show  “A leaderboard for the most influential Estate Agents in Social Media”

    K Index   ZPP100 Realtime ish

    ‘Snap-shot’ of real-time data taken at 21:00hrs on 31.8.13

Will I withdraw from the #ZPP100?

Not at present. As I have consistently said, it’s just a bit of light-hearted fun with a relatively serious side to it.

Is this just sour grapes that I have dipped a couple of places in the past couple of weeks?

No; I have maintained a steady top 10 position since I entered the list shortly after it started and a few places up and down now and then don’t really phase me. I have always said that being in the Top 100 in the UK is an achievement in itself. I do, however, like to play on an even field and hope that an improved scoring system can be implemented to ensure that the list retains credibility

*Don’t get me wrong, almost everyone (bar the highly focused corporate accounts) has a bit of fun and off topic, lighthearted conversation on Twitter and Facebook (I certainly do) but, I am trying to make the point that the scoring for the ZPP100 should be, in the main, about property and property market opinion and knowledge.

P.S. Please don’t ask me where or how I worked out the API code for the index. ‘I’ didn’t but, I have a few friends who work in IT who occasionally like to be given a challenge for a bit of fun but, equally, like to keep their skills hidden from the limelight.

Chris Wood 31.8.13

I welcome feedback so please feel free to leave constructive criticisms or ask questions below. If you could also take a second to rate my blog and pass it on to others who you think may find it interesting that would be great. Thanks.

About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards for estate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter Married to Amanda, he lives in Penzance with their children who are slowly flying the nest, his two dogs and his elderly Uncle. In his spare time; Chris likes to keep fit and is a long-standing member of the Territorial Army. In 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade.

What does Zoopla’s #ZPP100 do for me?

ZPP100Time was, when as an agent, all you had to do to sell a property was to stick an advert in your local paper and wait for the sales to roll in (or so popular folklore would have you believe). Nowadays, the medium is digital rather than paper. If you haven’t heard of it before, Zoopla is a major property portal along with the leviathan that is Rightmove. The majority of agents in the UK use these portals to advertise themselves and their customers properties. So far, so good.

Social media is a bit of a late-comer to the party. Once very much regarded as the preserve of ‘kids’ and celebrities, social media is now used by all sections of society and all ages. Social media is becoming big business for, well; big business. What social media has also become, though, is a huge force multiplier for small business and, a hugely powerful equaliser and research tool for consumers.

So what is the ZPP100 when it’s at home? Well, to quote Zoopla it’s: “A leaderboard for the most influential Estate Agents in Social Media” For anyone other than an estate agent who ‘does’ social media, this may seem a huge yawn. After all; who wants to know about a bunch of overpaid, self-important yuppies?

So what does the #ZPP100 do for me? 

If you are about to sell or rent your home out using an estate agent, quite a bit in fact! Think about it. If you are about to market your home, you want an agent who doesn’t just talk a good game, you want someone who actually DELIVERS on their promises. You want an agent who KNOWS how to market your home. An agent who has the answers to your questions and the skills to deal with any problems efficiently and promptly. The #ZPP100 gives sellers and landlords an excellent barometer for just how good an agent is at communicating, marketing, handling enquiries and, is viewed by their peers and the public alike in one of the most hostile environments a business can face… The social media landscape. Social media is often avoided by agents or businesses that either don’t have the confidence to market their businesses well or, are acutely aware that their bad reputation may just follow them online. That saves you quite a bit of leg-work and heart-ache.

There are around 30,000 individual people working in estate agency and, around 10,000 offices. If your agent is in the top 100 on the #ZPP100, that puts them in the absolute top (0.01%) of their profession on social media – an excellent benchmark for marketing, service and standards. Bad agents don’t like publicity and there is NOTHING more public than social media!

And what about me as an agent? I don’t feature/ I don’t feature very high up*; how does that help me?

If you run a great estate agency, you really are missing out if you don’t use social media to your advantage. People buy friendly people who are successful, helpful and confident. They like knowing that an agent can answer questions confidently, transparently and in a professional, friendly manner. If you are already doing that, why hide your light under a bushel?

Social media and the ZPP100 gives you an excellent, free platform to show your customers, current and potential, just what you can do for them. Social media is just good old-fashioned communication, using modern technology. Go on… Dive in!

*Before you get too downhearted, you may be higher than you think. Not trumpeted about but, there is a sneaky back-door where you can find out where you rank, out of everyone who has signed up. If you look at the bottom of the #zpp100 page, you will see that it is powered by ‘Leaderboard’. If you click on this link and log-in/ sign-up with your twitter account, you can then follow the Zoopla scoreboard and, find your current ranking. Just don’t tell anyone I told you…

Chris Wood 01/7/13

I welcome feedback so please feel free to leave constructive criticisms or ask questions below. If you could also take a second to rate my blog and pass it on to others who you think may find it interesting that would be great. Thanks.

About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards for estate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter Married to Amanda, he lives in Penzance with their children who are slowly flying the nest, his two dogs and his elderly Uncle. In his spare time; Chris likes to keep fit and is a long-standing member of the Territorial Army. In 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade.

The PDQ ‘social media week’ in numbers

 

The PDQ week in numbers

The PDQ week in numbers

‘Why we use social media (Twitter and Facebook) for the benefit of our customers’

 

KEY POINTS:
* 229 NEW followers this week* (up by 47% on last week)

* 5,510 total followers (up 2% on last week)

 

* Over 173  THOUSAND post views this week* (UP 86% on last week )

 

* Over 1.25 MILLION post views so far this month

 

 

 

 

To provide scale, Rightmove searches for the Penzance and Helston areas of West Cornwall this week total  just 12,955* – up 10% on last week

 

Statistics courtesy of http://www.squareberry.com and Rightmove.co.uk

 

*All figures are based on a rolling week/ month except Rightmove which appears to use a calendar week.

 

I welcome feedback so please feel free to leave constructive criticisms or ask questions below. If you could also take a second to rate my blog and pass it on to others who you think may find it interesting that would be great. Thanks.

 

About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall. He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco. A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards for estate agents in the UK. No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter Married to Amanda, he lives in Penzance with their children who are slowly flying the nest, his two dogs and his elderly Uncle. In his spare time; Chris likes to keep fit and is a long-standing member of the Territorial Army. In 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade.

 

 

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