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Happy Birthday to BigBlackHen.com Herts!

It is exactly one year since BigBlackHen.com opened its Hertfordshire office, and what a year it has been. Only 12 months on and already our distinctive For Sale boards have become an increasingly familiar sight across the county from Arkley in the south to Old Stevenage in the north, from Furneaux Pelham in the east, to Hemel Hempstead in the west. We have out over £30 million pounds worth of property on the market, have nearly 30 houses sold or under offer, and have registered over 2000 applicants looking to buy in Herts on our database. We’ve had a terrific response to our fresh approach to marketing, our more user friendly attitude to service and, of course, our low fixed fees. Traditional estate agents charge too much for what they do and we are proud to be offering people a more cost effective way to move. So blow up…

A revolution is taking place and traditional agents risk being swept away!

An amazing figure emerged this week that illustrates just how consumer’s house hunting behaviour has switched online. Rightmove announced that the British Public spent over 5.5 million hours looking at property on their site last month. Just think about that figure for a moment and you’ll realise just how profound the shift in consumer behaviour is.

After all, Rightmove has only been going for around seven years, before which we had to get in the car and drive around estate agents’ offices if we wanted to find out what is on the market, supplemented with leafing through the local paper.

The amazing thing is that while house hunting has been revolutionised – and remember that 14% of visitors to Rightmove in July were looking on their IPad or IPhone equivalent – the estate agency business has really changed very little. Agents are still wedded to their high cost High Street offices,…

Hertfordshire market starts to move…

There are definite signs over the last two to three weeks that the Herts market is beginning to move. We have had more offers coming in during that period than for the last 2-3 months and properties are beginning to sell well. A flat in Welwyn has just sold within a week with two buy to let investors making offers. A family house in Old Stevenage has gone to the first viewer in under a week and there are lots of other properties now attracting offers. Knight Frank report today that London prices are now 2% above the peak of March 2008 and expect prices to keep rising this year. It seems the heat of London is warming this area with so many buyers commuting to London for a living. It looks like there is reason to be cautiously optimistic at last in the Hertofrdshire property market!

A world run by estate agents

Imagine arriving at the supermarket checkout with a trolley load of shopping to be told by the assistant that you can only buy the goods if you sign a contract to shop exclusively at that store for the next 12 weeks. Oh, and you’ll have to give two week’s written notice to shop elsewhere at the end of the 12 week period. Welcome to a world run by a good number in the estate agency industry. Since starting BigBlackHen.com in March 2005 I have never once asked a client to sign a contract with a tie-in.  Call me old fashioned by I reckon that as you are the one paying the bills, you should decide if you are happy to carry on using our services. So you’ll find no tie-in or notice period in our contracts, just plain english. We prefer to win your loyalty by delivering first rate…

Estate agents charge too much for what they do

A recent Which? report looked at the way in which estate agents charge for their services and concluded that estate agents are deliberately vague about what they charge consumers and the kinds of commisssions quoted can vary quite dramatically. Personally I have always felt that High Street estate agents charge too much for what they do. After all, the internet, especially Rightmove, has brought down the cost of finding buyers, yet estate agents seem wedded to their 1.5% to 2% commissions (or more for joint/multiple agency). The good news is that internet is a great democratiser as it enables the little guys (ie. me) as much or – used cleverly – more power than the big guys (ie. the large corporate chains). It also allows companies like mine to innovate, reduce overheads and offer sellers something different at a price below what our competition charges. That’s why when I…