The Green (eyed) Monster
Foxtons bashing continues unabated - yesterday’s twitter pages exclaimed outrage that they have won Gold for Best Property Management in The Lettings Agency of the Year Awards in association with The Times and The Sunday Times with comments including the suggestion that the industry is letting itself down by allowing them to win. However closer examination reveals that many of the critics are competitor agents some of whom are more than happy to boast of their award success but don’t like it when they get beaten themselves.
A quick look at the Foxtons web site this morning shows they are offering 6,713 properties for sale and 3,887 for rent – over 10,000 clients in total. Now consider the fact that in every area Foxtons operate there is considerable competition, in quantity of agents anyway, and that no one has been forced to use them, and then ask why are they market leaders in just about every location where they have an office and in several where they don’t? And the only answer I can come up with is because they do the job their clients pay them for – they sell or rent properties for more money than the average agent. Because that is what estate agents do or should do – get the best possible price for their clients’ property.
I fully acknowledge that in order to obtain the best possible price Foxtons have flirted with the dark arts and some individual members of their team have, on occasion, crossed over to the dark side – and I don’t condone this. And I’m not naïve to the extent that I’m saying they have always put their client’s interests ahead of their own. But let’s be very careful here, which agents haven’t got a few skeletons in their cupboard? And what is worse, overvaluing a property, and then selling it, or undervaluing, and then selling it? People in glass houses…
I regard Foxtons as one of the best estate agencies in the UK, and say this publicly whilst running the risk of being accused of being on their payroll which I can categorically state I am not, and never have been. I admire their brand, their marketing, their work ethic (on a typical walk to the tube I pass a dozen estate agencies all of whom are closed at 8am and 8pm except Foxtons) and above all I admire their value – no estate agency has ever been worth more than Foxtons. If many of their critics spent more time focussing on their own businesses rather than knocking their more successful competitor then they might give Foxtons a run for their money – but I doubt this will happen as it’s easier for the green-eyed to carp from the sidelines than to get into the arena and perform.