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A chat with Craig McRae of McRae’s Estate Agent.
I called in to McRae’s estate agents based on the Avenue in Highams Park, to chat with Craig McRae about his long-standing sales, letting and property management company and his efforts to improve transparency in the estate agent industry.
What do you offer?
We provide a friendly, helpful and professional service to people looking for residential lettings, house buying and selling. People need to be able to call in and find a friendly face, to find out more about the area and how their sale or purchase is progressing. We are a family business employing six very experienced people, who know the area well.
What tips do you have for someone thinking of buying or selling a house?
Your biggest asset is your house. Use an experienced estate agent who can not only get the best possible deal for you, but also bring their knowledge and experience to get the process completed. People, quite rightly, see the marketing and presentation as crucial, but in fact you want an agent who will help you to manage the chain, and progress the sale and purchase to a successful exchange of contracts. Getting off to a good start matters, but getting the deal tied up and completed is crucial. Good estate agents can help you with the negotiations, know how to work with solicitors and contracts, and know the right questions to ask.
Tell me about your reputation and the Property Ombudsman?
We have been recognised as a business of best practice within the industry and are seen as a template of change. We welcomed the industry watchdog, the Property Ombudsman, and their initiatives to get a proper reviews system in place for estate agents. The reason is that we believe in taking a very transparent approach, fighting fake reviews and upgrading standards in the industry.
In 2009 the Property Ombudsman contacted us asking for details of 30 house buyers and 30 sellers to send them a review survey, after which I signed up to an ongoing scheme. We appear in Referenceline.com, the only Trading Standards Institute approved website for members of the Consumer Codes Approval Scheme, which gives honest, independent, unpaid for, reviews of businesses which consumers can rely upon.
Since 2009 McRae’s have maintained their position as the agent with the largest number of reviews, combined with the highest ratings of any estate agency branch:
– 9.6/10 for Sales
– 9.8/10 for Lettings
We have almost 700 reviews on it, about 400 of which are for our sales service the balance being rentals and so on. The three most commonly occurring words in our reviews are friendly, helpful and professional, we are also cited as being supportive and understanding. This reflects our focus on customer satisfaction in which we score really highly on the reviews website, with 100% in no fewer than 8 KPIs and 95% in another 12!
Until 2009 the review service was only provided for the sales service. I thought that it should be extended to the lettings service as well. The Property Ombudsman asked us to trial a lettings review scheme, which we did, since when it has been rolled out for rentals services. Landlords and tenants write reviews for the site on the lettings firms which they have used.