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Increasing levels of service to vendors through a Sole Agency 

28th May, 2024
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PRESS RELEASE - MAY 2024
Issued by Frank Salt Real Estate Ltd.

Grahame Salt, Director of the Frank Salt Real Estate Group discusses various aspects of the Maltese property market and the value of using the company’s Sole Agency Package to sell a property much faster. This exclusive and exciting new service was developed under the guidance of the Group’s board of directors and is proving to be highly popular and successful. This undertaking is further aimed at raising standards across the board for vendors who entrust the company with selling their homes on an exclusive mandated basis. Grahame also did not spare the rod when delving into some of the misconceptions that still plagues the relationship between vendors going it alone when selling versus employing the services of an experienced and reputable estate agency. Grahame ended off this insightful and frank Q&A session by reflecting on what he thinks must still be done to improve future relationships with clients and as to what the non-negotiables are. 

 

1.      What value does an estate agent bring when selling a property, especially when seen from the perspective of a vendor? 

Selling one’s home is probably the biggest transaction most people will ever carry out, unless you are selling a large business or are involved in some high-value trading business. For transactions such as these, one cannot afford any costly mistakes. That is why an expert should be involved so that one can rely on their years of experience to assist you, ensuring that the deal happens without any hiccups and in the most efficient way possible.  

If you were trying to sell a business for example, you would typically involve financial consultants, tax experts, lawyers, etc. You could try doing it all alone, but the chances are that mistakes will be made and most likely they will be very costly and painful ones. When selling real estate, many vendors think it is a very straight forward process: they simply look at advertised prices to value their own property’s worth and they try to handle everything alone. What they are basically trying to do is avoid paying fees to someone who can handle the sale process for them. The reality is that very often they wouldn’t even know when they’re making mistakes! They may take much longer than necessary to sell; they may under-price or over-price; they would have no idea who the people walking around their home are; they would have to navigate the costly marketing options; or worse still they may enter into an agreement that ends up turning into a legal nightmare. Here is where the value and wisdom of years of experience is truly appreciated.  

Now…if we were to be truly honest, as things currently stand in the local real estate agent market, there are several people working within the industry who barely know more than the vendors they are trying to help and as a result they add very little to the equation. It is only when one deals with an experienced agent or an agent who is well educated and has been well trained or when one works under the guidance of a well-structured and experienced real estate agency that real value can be added. 

 

The true benefits are only enjoyed when you have an experienced agent guiding you from day one in terms of: 

·         how to present your property,  

·         how to price it,  

·         how to market it,  

·         how to show it to potential buyers,  

·         how to negotiate the sale in order to get the best deal for all involved and  

·         how to handle the promise of sale process to lead to the successful conclusion of a final deed.  

 

The sale of a property has become much more complicated than it used to be. There are planning issues, compliance issues, EPC certificates, more complicated bank loans and so on. The buyer also has to get through a number of hurdles and an agent will assist them with these in order to make sure the sale goes ahead. All of this is the value that a good real estate agent adds to a property transaction. 

 

2.      In your experience, what are some common misconceptions that property vendors may have about working with estate agents and how do you address them?  What services do agents bring to the table as opposed to when vendors sell a property themselves? 

 

One of the main misconceptions that vendors have is that they may get a better deal at the end of the day if they avoid using an agent and avoid paying fees. What they fail to realise is that they miss out on all the points I’ve mentioned above and they also miss out on a huge buyer market that only a good real estate agency can expose their property to. A good real estate agency will bring a serious, already vetted buyer to the table much faster than a vendor can ever manage to do by themselves and this will likely get the vendor a better deal overall. The vendor will also avoid all the hassle and admininstration work of trying to manage the whole sale process of trying to do it all alone and potentially waste a lot of time. Vendors also risk making major mistakes due to their lack of knowledge and experience.  The latter can come at a great cost to them. Your estate agent will handle all the administrative burden and will also vet potential buyers before walking them through your door. Unless you have someone consistently pushing and promoting your property, the sale process could take so much longer. 

 

At Frank Salt Real Estate we provide our agents with an extensive training programme that includes ongoing training to ensure our agents are always kept abreast with the latest legislation and best market practices. It has become an in-house joke that all the other agents keep trying to poach our agents as they know they’re the best! We are also very proud to say that over 60% of our agents have more than five years of experience. Some of our managers have been with us for over twenty years. There is tremendous value in having all of this experience on your side when mediating communication between yourself and a potential buyer. 

 

The marketing exposure we provide for our vendors comes at a huge annual cost running into hundreds of thousands of euros. At Frank Salt Real Estate, we have a full-time marketing team and run extensive campaigns locally and overseas. We invest in all the latest marketing tools to be able to present our properties in the best way possible and using the most appropriate media depending on the property and its potential audience. We also enjoy an excellent reputation amongst local financial service providers and institutions like the local banks, so potential buyers are regularly introduced to us to look after. The service we offer buyers by assisting them with loans and other matters they may need is second to none. Your home will be appropriately exposed to new markets, an established audience and also an existing database of potential buyers. 

This and much more is the true value that vendors are missing out on by trying to sell their properties alone. 

 

3.      Who constitutes an estate agent’s client – property vendor versus buyer? 

 

This is always the great dilemma that again, only an experienced real estate agent can handle. The estate agent’s client is technically the vendor as the vendor engages the agent to assist in selling their property. The vendor pays the agent’s fee. However, it is crucial that a good estate agent looks after the buyer as well, as this serves the best interests of both the buyer and the vendor. A buyer will never be persuaded to buy something they don’t like. The agent’s job is to find the right buyer for each property and to make sure that the transaction goes ahead smoothly for both parties. The transaction must work for both parties and a lot of energy goes into understanding a buyer’s needs and helping buyers find a home that is right for them. We also assist buyers with anything they may need after they have signed a Promise of Sale Agreement: from engaging with architects to obtaining bank loans or anything else they may require. 

 

But ultimately, the agent’s job is to find the right buyer for the vendor who has engaged them. 

 

4.      What is the aim behind Frank Salt Real Estate’s new Sole Agency Package offering and how does it deliver the advantages of a one-stop-shop approach to property vendors? 

 

An estate agent in Malta typically lists several thousand properties at any one time. These are all visited by an agent, all the details of the property are noted, a proper description is prepared, they are photographed, they are listed online and then marketed extensively. The agents then introduce potential buyers and so on. Most of these properties are listed with many agents and these are referred to as an ‘open agency’ agreement with the vendor. 

In practice it is very difficult to give all these vendors the attention they truly deserve. An agent gets paid if he/she is successful in finding a buyer for a vendor but to offer adequate assistance to thousands of vendors is very hard. 

 

A sole agency listing applies to a property that is listed exclusively with Frank Salt Real Estate. These make up a smaller selection from our main database and we can offer these vendors the attention they deserve. Once a property is listed as a sole agency, we allocate a consultant to be the vendor’s main point of contact. This avoids the vendor from having to deal with countless phone calls from random agents, many of whom will be asking the same questions and so on. The dedicated agent will ensure that all property viewings happen in a controlled manner and that the vendor is always given proper feedback after each viewing. The agent will also plan a marketing strategy with the vendor and our sole agency properties are marketed more extensively and given much more prominence in all our marketing efforts. We also ensure each one is professionally photographed and offer tools such as walk-throughs, the preparation of floor plans and open houses. 

In other words, in the case of a sole agency, the vendor gets much more focussed attention, a lot more marketing and generally this achieves quicker results. A large proportion of our sole agencies sell within a few weeks as a result. 

 

Some vendors may wish to keep the sale of their property discreet and only have their property offered to select buyers. We therefore have a few sole agencies where we offer this service. The property will not be listed publicly but will instead be marketed to potential buyers in a much more discreet manner. 

 

5.      What is the typical process in which an estate agent supports a property vendor from listing to closing in the case of a sole agency? 

 

The agent who will be assisting the vendor will be in constant contact with the vendor throughout the entire sale process. At the listing stage, the vendor will be given advice on how to best present their property and the correct pricing strategy. Vendors often underestimate how important correct pricing is. We will then plan the marketing strategy and prepare all the marketing material before launching the property live to the public. We may plan open houses if this is deemed to be a good idea to promote the property. Then, as buyers are introduced, all communication between the buyer and the vendor is via the agent and regular feedback is provided to make sure we find a buyer and close a sale as efficiently as possible. Vendors can benefit greatly from having an experienced agent follow up with potential buyers. We then assist with finalising the terms of the sale and as explained above, we assist the buyer with anything that may be needed to ensure that the process from promise of sale to final deed happens smoothly. In the case of foreign vendors, we also assist with things like repatriation of funds, etc. 

 

6.      How does the extensive marketing applicable to sole agency listings benefit property vendors in today’s competitive real estate market and are there different strategies for pricing? What role does a property consultant play in this regard? 

 

In a market where there is constant “information overload” and thousands of properties for sale at any one time, it is increasingly harder for properties to stand out from the crowd. We can give our sole agency properties much more prominence in all our marketing, both locally and overseas. We use modern marketing techniques and Artificial Intelligence to ensure that our sole agencies are prominently displayed over various platforms and to appropriate audiences. This helps to attract a buyer’s attention and the result is a quicker sale. A real estate agent needs to provide coverage on many media platforms, and this is very expensive and time consuming. However, if done correctly, the results speak for themselves. 

 

7.      You mentioned that you allocate a dedicated consultant to each vendor for sole agency listings. Why is this helpful and how does personalised support enhance the vendor’s experience and what cutting-edge marketing tools do Frank Salt Real Estate employ to best promote this category of listed properties? 


Everybody leads a busy life and thus time is a very valuable commodity. With an open agency listing, one of the biggest problems that a vendor encounters is that numerous agents from various companies walk in and out of their home with potential buyers, very often not providing any feedback after a viewing. Vendors also receive countless phone calls from agents they don’t know, asking questions about their property and so on. It is so much simpler if a vendor only deals with one person they know and trust. This dedicated consultant will guide them throughout the sale process, organise viewings and accompany their fellow agents where necessary, provide proper feedback after viewings and assist at the negotiation stage. This makes the vendor’s overall experience so much better and streamlines the sale of their property. The fact that we do not franchise our branch offices means that we are one large team and as a result our branch offices are not in competition with one another due to different ownership. Therefore, agents from our different offices can collaborate far better this way when it comes to each other’s listings. A dedicated consultant is one of the things we offer to clients who entrust us as their sole agent.
 

 

8.      What makes Frank Salt Real Estate’s consultants a better fit for property vendors?  

 

There are several reasons. Firstly, our agents are working within a business that has operated for more than 50 years and therefore we have a wealth of experience and constantly fine tune the way we operate. Our reputation has always been our biggest asset and everyone who joins the company understands that they now represent Frank Salt Real Estate and must therefore act accordingly when dealing with our clients. We look after our agents and incentivise them well. New agents are given extensive training both on and off the field. They always work under the watchful eye of an experienced manager. We are fortunate to have a large percentage of our sales and letting team (over 60%) who have been with us for over 5 years and therefore our clients can benefit from this wealth of experience. Different properties need to be marketed in different ways and we have a great mix of young and energetic agents as well as older more experienced agents. This allows us to look after our clients in the best way possible. 

 

9.      How quickly do sole agency listings typically sell compared to open listings?  


80-85% of our sole agencies typically sell within the first 60 days. This is because we guide all our clients as to what the correct pricing strategy is, we implement an extensive marketing campaign and we always have a large database of potential buyers to offer our sole agency listings to. A lot of work and expense goes into properly marketing any property, so it isn’t just a random exercise. The same goes for building up a strong buyer database and this is what our clients benefit from.
 

 

10.  Looking ahead, how do you foresee the role of estate agents evolving to better serve the needs of property vendors? 

 

In every business there are elements that need to constantly evolve and there are other things that we can safely say will not change in the foreseeable future. We will certainly need to constantly keep up with the pace of new technology so that our business and our clients can always benefit from the latest marketing tools for example. Our agents need to adapt to the ever-changing pace of life and they must also always keep themselves up to date and well educated about the real estate market and any new rules and regulations. However, certain things will never change, such as the need to always put your clients’ needs first and to always offer an honest, efficient and effective service! Clients with a desire to sell real estate will always want the entire sale process to be as easy as possible, they will want to sell their property for the best price possible and in the shortest time possible. These are the things that we shall always strive to provide…now and in the future. 

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