Moving and Estate Agent Sites

I got a call this evening off our landlady to inform us that her boyfriend was on his way to give us our notice. Long story clearly, we weren’t told much. Suffice to say he never appeared and she called soon after and it seemed that they’d been arguing, on the brink of splitting up etc. etc. So despite no one officially coming round to tell us to move out, I’m not about to sit here and get a bombshell dropped on me. Annoying to be honest as our housemate is moving out to live with his girlfriend and we had a few plans on reorganising the rooms and the house. Now of course that’s all out the window and instead I’ve just spent the last 3 hours looking at house and flat rentals. Luckily Lord of the Rings was on TV so I wasn’t really interested in that 😉

I don’t know if it’s just the sites I happen to look at but 99% of the Estate Agent websites I look at are so badly designed it’s depressing. It’s bad enough having to look through them under the circumstances, but they are either something out of the 90s or has some really cheap bad flash animation as a splash page on them. I’ve set up a couple of estate agent sites in the past, and I know that they do all seem to like their flash! Thankfully there are sites like Right Move and Find A Property which are fairly okay when it comes to design so you rarely need to get to an actual Estate Agent’s site. Which is lucky, as these days when you search for “Area Estate Agents” the first 10+ results are for directories or accumulated sites (such as Right Move). On a search for “Wirral Letting Agents” I didn’t get one direct link to an actual estate agent! Perhaps this is the niche to get into for SEO? Estate Agents!

So, I’ve found a handful of places that we can afford and will hopefully be a reasonable enough size for us to live in. I’m going to have to say goodbye to my garden and almost everything in it 🙁 Next job is to start looking round these places. Well that’ll be home number 31. Not bad eh, on average I’ve move more than once a year for my whole life… 🙁

36 Responses

  1. Estate agents sites are awful… and searching on google for them is even worse. We just moved and we were fortunate enough to find a nice local letting agents run by two very nice mid-50’s ladies… found us a lovely terraced cottage in a nice little village… mind there website boasted a flash splash…

    Best wishes with the hunt!

  2. Sarah says:

    Cheers Martin. The sites definitely are quite bad. I had to revisit them today to find telephone numbers!

    I’m so tempted to offer these people a decent site in payment for cheaper rent 😉

  3. Matt says:

    Best thing we found to do, and we were looking for 6 months is to go in and ask what is available there and then. Otherwise they are either gone, or not ready for x amount of months.

    But your right, the majority of websites are shit, in the end, we went with a landlord who doesnt even have a website!

  4. Sarah says:

    Well we took a drive up to the area we’re looking at tonight, got a better idea of house sizes and area types. Some are a bit dodgy so anything below £400 a month is out!

    We picked up a local newspaper with estate agent listings so I can look through that and see what else we find. We’ve got a few viewings this week so we’ll see what comes of them. At least we’re in a position to move when we need to.

  5. Ines says:

    I totally agree with you guys (and I’m a Real Estate Agent). I’m afraid to ask what you think of mine! : )

  6. sara says:

    If I use a realtor (estate agent), I won’t use one who doesn’t have a website because to me they wouldn’t be taking advantage of all these if to offer. They are usually horribly and very inaccessible. Sometimes local newspapers where people publish their own ads are the best. I don’t know how thorough craigslist is in your area (http://geo.craigslist.org/iso/gb) but in the states it really is a great resource.

  7. Sarah says:

    Hi Ines, your site isn’t too bad (I’ve seen much worse here in the UK). However the menu on the left is a bit hard to read with white text on orange background. Otherwise it’s not exceptionally bad in my opinion (bear in mind I’m not a designer!). My only thought would be to try and enhance the colours in the top photo as they look a bit washed out, along with altering the sidebar background colour to a darker shade.

    Sara, I agree on them needing a website, and also keeping it up to date. Half the places I called about yesterday had gone or weren’t available. I prefer to keep an eye on a website for new listings instead of people constantly phoning, especially as you can’t trust them to call you with every new property.

    I’ve never looked at Craigslist so I’ll take a look however I’m of the mind of sticking with an agent as it’s just a bit more for security. I’d trust them over handing a perfect stranger £700 in bond/deposit!

  8. Ines says:

    Sarah – thanks so much for taking a look, I appreciate your opinion. The site is only 2 months old trying a new concept of hybrid website/blog site.

    There are 7 images for the top photo header and change as you click – but I will look at your suggestions….thanks a lot!

    Here in The States we have something called The Multiple Listing Service which is a system accessed by Realtors to find properties on the market. We usually allow clients to get automatic notices when there’s a new listing (no phone call necessary from the agent)….I’m surprised you don’t have something like that!

  9. Sarah says:

    No problem Ines, I like the idea of a blog/site. I’ve used it for a few clients too, however the front page tends to be static but I encourage them to write on the blog side with company news or related news.

    We have a few collective websites where estate agents can add their properties to and means you can search one site for properties from many agents, however they’re not all kept up to date and often they won’t contain all the properties the agent has. Unfortunately a lot of businesses still haven’t embraced the power of the web as much here in the UK. I find it a problem with clients who are narrow minded in what their website should do as they base it on what it has done (eg. not made sales), compared to what it could do. If that makes sense!

  10. Ines says:

    It totally makes sense – not a lot of agents in my area are open to blogging, and I do think it’s a mistake on their end. You are ahead of the game by making the suggestions, the rest is up to them.
    Good luck!!

  11. Sarah:

    Yes i had thought that about my lettings agents… but quite often with these small independents it hard to make them see the error or their previous developers ways…

    Ines… im shocked and appalled… as an estate agent your site should be incoherent, spammy and generally very eye melting.. you have much work to do to reach the level of general awfulness you find in UK estate agents websites!

  12. Ines says:

    LOL! That’s IT!! I’m moving to the UK….you guys are great!

  13. Sarah says:

    Just as an update, we saw a property yesterday we quite liked and if the landlady will drop the rent down to what we can afford we’ll hopefully move.

    We also discovered yesterday the amount of fees you have to pay. I thought the Landlord was the one to pay all the fees, not the paying tennants! For one place, on top of the first month’s rent and bond (around 1.5 months rent) they charge just over £200 in fees and costs plus £40 per adult for a credit check! That’s £300 on top which is non refundable! It’s daylight robbery 🙁

  14. yes renting has become a rip off, we paid a £50 credit check, £350 in fees and two months rent plus the deposit!

  15. Sarah says:

    £400 before paying anything for the actual house?! We’ve worked out that if we find somewhere for £500, we’ll need £750 deposit, then up to £300 for fees. That’s over £1500! I realise part of it is the rent which is what we’d usually be paying, but that doesn’t even include a van hire to get things moved etc.

    Luckily we have that in a savings account which was going on our holiday to Italy. We may make Blackpool this year for a night 🙁

  16. Matt says:

    It cost us £1275 for one months rent, two credit cheques, fees for estate agents and deposit etc.

  17. Sarah says:

    Absolute Daylight Robbery…

  18. £1500+ sounds right for £500

    were paying £550 for a terraced cottage in a village no-ones heard of… thing is the same money in a city centre would have only got us a two up two down in some fairly dismal side street… it seems no-one wants to rent small places in villages anymore!

  19. Sarah says:

    I’ve lived in villages half my life. Whilst the quietness is nice, it’s too quiet for me. However right now I’d just like to find somewhere where the car is safe and our bed (kingsize) fits the master bedroom! Up here village property costs more, and there are plenty of 2 up 2 down in dismal streets too!

    Ideally I wanted to maybe move to a luxury flat in a place up here called Priory Wharf (look at priorywharf.com for an idea). Right by the Mersey Ferry, views of Liverpool, on site gym, 24 hour security. However the only place available is a 3 bedroom 2 floor apartment for £650 a month. So if anyone wants to take the 3rd room for £150 a month give me a shout 😉

  20. Jem says:

    This reminds me of my own fuss with estate agents when my partner and I were looking to finally get our own place last year.

    Most of our local estates either don’t have a website, or have websites but don’t update it so the properties listed have already been rented out. When we finally found properties that were available the descriptions would be lacking, using abbreviations I’m not familiar with and just generally a pile of poo.

    We finally found a place and have been there a year next month – the property is managed by the estate agent and their face to face service isn’t much better. The woman we have to talk to if we need something is always “in a meeting” and when she tries to call us she always calls my mobile instead of our land-line (we live in a no-signal area).

    I could go on and on, I tell ya!

  21. Sarah says:

    Jem, I know exactly how you feel. So far the agents we’ve dealt with really couldn’t care if we’re interested or not. Maybe they don’t work on commission so don’t feel the need to be polite or enthusiastic.

    So far everywhere we’ve looked has been too small (that’s the ones that pass the car safety test!). We have a new prospective private house to view when it’s available so we’re hoping that’s a better option. No agents to deal with, no major fees to pay! Maybe we’ll get a holiday this year with what’s left over.

  22. Ines says:

    I’ve been reading your comment thread and I am appalled that agents are like that in the UK. Is any one of them reading this?

    Move to Miami guys, I promise to give you excellent personal service. GEESH!

  23. Sarah says:

    They’re all that bad, which is why I’m surprised they have been with recent experience. One of my long term clients is an estate agent and he and his staff are all pretty nice, happy and enthusiastic!

    If I’m ever needing a place in Miami I’ll look you up 😉

  24. Jon says:

    Sarah, just googled wordpress custom design for estate agents and here I am. There’s not much hope for me as I’m both an estate agent and totally infatuated with the internet. it’s a very lonely existence as you can imagine.

    I’m looking for a talented wordpress designer with SEO flair to help change the experience you’ve just undergone and take the bling out and put some substance in. Can you help?

  25. Sarah says:

    Hi Jon, I did contact you when I first got your message. Never had a response back.

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