In Conversation With: Tom Ward – Aspire Estate Agents

Mike Sheppard

Mike Sheppard

Customer Marketing Lead

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Earlier this week, I visited Aspire Estate Agents in Fulham to talk with Director Tom Ward about why they switched to Reapit and film some footage for an upcoming Customer Story. During our conversation, I asked Tom how he thinks the market will change over the coming months and what agencies should be focusing on to mitigate any challenges that might arise. We also talked about the importance of technology in agencies today and how that could evolve in the future.

Tell us about your agency

My name is Tom Ward. My agency is Aspire Estate Agents, operating in South West London. We have six branches, and we offer sales, lettings, property management and block management.

How do you think the market is going to change over the coming months?

I think we’re going to go into an uncertain market. We’re inevitably being hit by the higher cost of borrowing. Fundamentally in London, the cost of property is not about the pound signs on the asking price, it’s about how much that buyer can afford, and that’s now being squeezed. Buyers can afford less, so inevitably those pound signs probably also need to align with the affordability of the buyer.

I can see there perhaps becoming more available stock on the sales market as well, through a liquidation of landlords if you like, who have perhaps been locked into some quite nice low rates for a prolonged period of time on interest only. These rates are going to be filtering through and coming to an end, and you may see landlords, who were on 2% fixed mortgages suddenly re-mortgaging up to 5.7%, or even higher. This could create a situation where these buy-to-let properties or accidental landlords even, these just don’t make sense to hold, so we could potentially see some saturation in the market as well.

So, I’m confident in saying that we are going into a buyer’s market, but again, this is why understanding your KPIs is absolutely paramount. Knowing where your buyers are coming from and why they’re buying in a market, which is perhaps a little bit tougher than it was. That’s the difference between where a good agency and a not so good agency is going to make their money.

❝I'm confident in saying that we are going into a buyer’s market... this is why understanding your KPIs is absolutely paramount.​❞

What challenges do you think agencies will face and what can they do to mitigate them?

I think agencies are going to face challenges internally. I think they’re going to face staff challenges. Perhaps some of their members of staff have been quite used to earning from quite good money in a good market. So those agencies will need to be focusing on staff training, buy-in to the business and expectation management of where the current market is. 

So, ensuring that you as an agency are keeping people motivated and keeping people engaged is going to be a very, very key challenge moving into a challenging sales market.

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How do you use technology to enhance your agency?

Using technology in agency today is absolutely fundamental. Automation is something that people expect in today’s day and age. It’s something that within our changing demographics of the market where people are more tech-savvy, people are younger, coming into the market and people expect automation. People expect everything to be seamless and easy, and you should be able to, in today’s day and age, move into a property, certainly on the lettings side of things, relatively seamlessly, knowing that everything can be done through an online web or an online app. 

Using the technology that Reapit provides and being able to link that in saves a huge amount of time, and it’s fantastic for the customer journey. Knowing that the customer can choose a property and move into a property and having those steps seamless is also good for us and good for our reputation as well.

❝Using the technology that Reapit provides and being able to link that in saves a huge amount of time, and it's fantastic for the customer journey.​❞

How do you think technology is going to change estate agencies?

I don’t think it’s going to fundamentally change estate agency, but I think it is going to enhance it. Ultimately, people want to buy through people. It’s the largest investment that people will make in their lives and people don’t just want to deal with tech all the way through the buying process, or perhaps even the tenancy process. 

But having good people within an agency that understand the technology is there to enhance not just the business, but their own careers is incredibly important. If you’re not tuning into tech solutions in today’s day and age, you will be left behind.

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