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This week I sat with Alex Evagora, an estate agent a specialist in the Super Prime property sector within the UK. A former finance professional found his calling in real estate 7 years ago. Putting his sales skills to the test he has now started at a new venture with Daniel Daggers Real Estate. Here is his story:
What was it about real estate that really drew you towards it and how did you get into it?
I was unfortunately sacked from a role in the finance industry in, 2013 or 2014. I just wasn’t very good at the job at all. So bad. I mean, I would’ve just sacked myself if I was my boss, I don’t blame her for doing that.
And previously I’d been in sales roles like telesales, selling things to people I’ve never met before. I realised, why not use that experience and apply my sales skills to face-to-face sales, something that has a product I believe in. That product was property.
I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and say “oh I love property. I love architecture. I love interior design”, that’s not true. But I like people, I like dealing with people in the street all day, every day. And that just, you know, from day one that just pulled me in. I’ve just been obsessed with this aspect of my work ever since day one in 2014, I think it was. Making it 7 years in the industry this upcoming May.
So where are you working now?
I work for Daniel Daggers Real Estate. There’s just two of us as agents at the moment. We teamed up back in March just before lockdown and I’m self-employed. I’m not employed or on a payroll so I’m very much incentivized to sell a property and in the best way possible for the clients. The goal always being to provide the clients with the best service possible.
Daniel was the ex-head of the private office at Knight Frank, I see he’s sold $4 billion worth of real estate and he says, statistically, that nobody’s sold more real estate than him. So, if anyone’s reading this who thinks they have, I urge them to come forward.
And where do you see yourself going in real estate?
That’s a really interesting question. Someone else asked me this, I think about two or three days ago. And you know, I always knew what I wanted to do and that was always to start my own company. And I did do that last year. I started W1 estates and I was trading as Alex Evagora.
Daniel’s been mentoring me for the past year and a half to two years or so and I see him as a thought leader in our industry. When he left Knight Frank, he sat me down and said, “Alex come and work with me” and I couldn’t turn down the offer. Starting your own company is great and earning full fees is great, but what was more important to me, especially at this stage of my career is realizing that I don’t know everything.
The more I learned the more I realised how much I didn’t actually know. I come from a lettings background as well, and he comes from a sales background and I want to keep learning before I actually go off and do my own thing. I speak about that very openly, Daniel knows that one day I will go on and probably do that. But who knows when that might be I’ve still got so much to learn every day.
What has been your biggest takeaway from all of this?
I think with the industry in the UK, the reason why it’s got such a bad name as estate agents is that we don’t represent the buyer. We act only for the seller. When we’re negotiating or doing viewings, we’re not always acting in their best interest. The way we’ve done things over the years has led to a negative reputation for the industry as a whole. And this needs to change.
In America, the buyers are represented equally and agents from both the seller and the agent side split their fees. I think that needs to happen here quickly so that we can do a better job for our clients.
In America, you’ve got to get a broker’s license and they differ from state to state. So you really have to put in some effort to become an estate agent. Over here however, there’s no real barrier to entry into industry. And people tend to fall into this role, this job. Nobody grows up saying, “I want to be an estate agent”. That’s another thing which needs to change. And I think when that does happen, which I think they’re working on, then things will get better.
You have a well-established personal brand on social media. How important do you think that is for estate agents?
It’s paramount, absolutely paramount. Every single agent needs to be on social media for so many different reasons, I can list 80 different reasons. I saw this years ago, when I was in an employed role in one of my previous companies, I was borderline bullied for my social media activity and the content I was putting out there. Which wasn’t nice, but I stuck with my gut feeling.
Traditionally agents would advertise in the newspaper, which is where a lot of people’s eyeballs would be. When my parents wanted to buy a property, they would walk down a high street in their area and walk in and look for a property as if they were in a shop. They’d simply ask “What do you have available for us?”
What do you have now? You go on the internet, right? And if you want to advertise as an agent, you want to advertise where everybody’s eyeballs are and that goes for any sort of business. These days people are on their phone when they’re on the phone and which app you use the most? I guarantee you, it’s probably social media, it’s always far up there. If you’re clever about advertising, where do you want to advertise? It should be on social media so that your content is constantly in your potential customers faces.
So when people think of Alex or Shafaq they think property. It’s about branding yourself, because your company might not be around tomorrow, but you have to hedge yourself, have an insurance policy that’s for you. I can’t stress enough that you should just document your days on your story, show people what you’re up to indirectly will build trust in your brand. People may laugh at you in the beginning, but so what, you’re focusing on yourself.
The benefits will come when people will see how busy you are. It builds trust and when they’re sitting at the dinner table talking about how someone is looking for an estate agency, you will be the first person that comes to mind.
I’m not going to pretend like I’m some social media guru, cause I’m really not, you know, I’m not very active on it these days because I’m so busy and I’m not an influencer or a social media guy and the work takes precedent.
It’s important to continue to provide valuable content and not just about new instructions or deals closed.
Are there any other industry leaders, so I know you mentioned Daniel Daggerhas been a mentor to you. Are there any other industry leaders that you look up to?
Ryan Serhant, who’s just started his own company in America is very forward-thinking. He’s put it out there. He’s been very open, transparent about his experiences and what he really does. He’s confident and shared that knowledge openly and actively.
What are you looking forward to in the new year?
I think so at the moment, our company is very reactive. We haven’t even launched the website yet. It’s going to be very, very different to what others have done. It’s taken time to perfect it before we launch. I’m looking forward to being a properly established company with a website and a proper location. I’m ready to attack the market and being a bit more proactive in the way I do business. I’m really looking forward to the new year. We’ve been in lockdown and working independently, and I’m looking forward to being able to spend more time with Daniel and learning more from him, shadowing him more. Really going at it.
If you were to tell agents one thing that they need to change so that they can be successful in 2021, what would that be?
All right. No pressure. How many people are going to hate me off that question?
I think agents should change in 2021. I think they should start realizing that our industry is turning into a brokerage and being more open to talking to other agents, collaborating and not being ashamed to call another agent for a shared deal.
Start posting more on social media and providing more valuable content that people want to see.
Change is hard. It’s not easy. I’m changing even now. Even the way I do a viewing, before I met Daniel was completely wrong and he’s taught me how to do a viewing, in a completely different way. I’m learning from scratch. It’s hard. Of course, sometimes I forget what I’m doing as well. You fall into the old ways, but people need to roll with the times. Things have changed and we need to get on board. You need to be digital now. You really have to otherwise you will get lost.
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