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NAEA Propertymark National Conference 2018

Thursday 01 March 2018

Delegates battled the elements this year, to reach a very snowy National Conference - but despite the weather, the venue was packed, showcasing a diverse and inspiring line-up of business greats and challenging debates.

The day started with a bang as BBC Business Journalist, and compare for the day, Sally Bundock took to the stage to kick off the 2018 NAEA Propertymark National Conference.

There was just enough time to grab a quick coffee and do a lap of the exhibition hall before Property Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle took centre stage to impress the importance of communication and customer service. 

Since 2016, TPO have seen a 68 per cent increase in the number of enquiries received, although the number of complex estate agent queries has decreased, which she put down to more awareness by the public. When questioned by an audience member who expressed his concerns surrounding the mounds of regulation agents have to contend with, Katrine re-iterated the focus on connecting with customers, getting back to people and staying positive.


It has been a tough year for agents, but NAEA Propertymark President Katie Griffin has remained confident and optimistic. It's an "exciting time to be a part of Propertymark" she said, touching on just some of the organisations achievements. 

In her address, Katie announced the launch of our brand new membership benefit, Propertymark Passport, an application which enables users to verify customer identities and support compliance with HMRC Anti Money Laundering Regulations.

She ended her speech by inviting delegates to embrace the changing landscape of the sector and work together to promote and be proud of the work agents do.


There was never any doubt that delegates would stand their ground when it came to a session that pitted traditional, hybrid and online agents against each other. The lively debate on how agency business models are evolving saw easyProperty’s Jon Cooke, EweMove’s Nick Neill and Arnolds Keys’ Martyn Baum go head to head in a panel discussion where the audience were keen to have their say.

Martyn passionately fought his corner on behalf of high street agents which kept the audience on the edge of their seats. Commenting on the issue of transparency, Jon remarked that a recent shift has empowered consumers, offering more clarity, and that for the price many online agents are offering, sellers are aware that they must do some of the work themselves. Martyn however was quick to dispel this, stating that he doesn't believe sellers do recognise the work they have to do, which was met by applause from delegates. 

All agreed however that regulation was important, with Martyn reiterating the stance of delegates from last year’s conference when the same question was put to then Housing Minister Gavin Barwell - agents want regulation!


Known as the man behind the global marketing success of Lego, Christian Majgaard was a real hit with the crowd, delivering an entertaining, passionate and insightful talk which made him one of the favourites of the day. He began with a light-hearted and humorous introduction into 1970’s market research where he was tasked with asking customers “Why have you not bought more Lego?” to which they generally responded, “We have enough.”

Fast forward to the 90’s where sales eroded, and a much-needed change in product strategy meant Lego went from selling bricks to selling the dream of what you could build with them. By simply asking the question 'what do customers want from us?' they were able to adopt a consumer driven approach that saw them marry with Hollywood to develop a brand alliance with the likes of Star Wars (for which they only needed to create a minuscule seven additional bricks) Harry Potter, EA, Spiderman and Bob the Builder.

Lego now have eight theme parks across the globe, hold science and technology competitions spanning 80 countries with over 250,000 young people taking part each year, have a movie franchise under their belt and dominate the toy market - success that Christian attributes to getting out of the box.


Analyst and consumer behaviour specialist at Rightmove, Daniel Barea, took an in-depth look at interaction between consumers and estate agents, honing in on what vendors look for in an agent, and the role perception plays in it all.

So, what do sellers want? When it came to desirable attributes, the top three preferable traits were trustworthiness, professionalism and knowledge. And when asked to consider which well-known person would make the best agent, unsurprisingly David Attenborough came out on top, closely followed by money saving expert Martin Lewis and daytime television personality Phillip Schofield.

Rightmove’s research took a closer look at consumer perception, finding that 21 per cent believed agents spend most of their time arranging viewings, compared to agents’ own perception that they spend the majority of their time taking a sale to completion (26 per cent). The data also showed that those with the least experience and knowledge (60 per cent of 18-34-year olds) placed more value on face-to-face contact.


This year we teamed up with A J. Gallagher to offer 10 lucky newcomers to the industry, a chance to attend this year's conference. During the break, we caught up with bursary recipient Eleanor Mullins, from Rona Sales and Lettings, to find out her thoughts on the day:

“To be nominated for a bursary made me feel as though my short time in the industry has already been successful, but to then actually be chosen for one of the few places was very exciting! My favourite part of the day so far has to be Christian Majgaard - his speech was something I could relate to and the points he conveyed were ones that would not only help me in the industry, but also change the way I approach the business world. He was so interesting and witty, and I really enjoyed learning about his journey and way of thinking.

“I would definitely recommend others apply for the bursary scheme, to experience different influences for the way they work and approach tasks.”


In the aptly named 'Winter is Coming' session, NAEA Propertymark Chief Executive Mark Hayward and Millbridge Systems' Duncan Hall offered practical advice to delegates on the frosty subjects of anti-money laundering and General Data Protection Regulation compliance.

Both will be huge issues for agents over the forthcoming year, which was evident by the overwhelming audience engagement. Mark and Duncan addressed the legal parameters of the legislation and answered delegates burning questions.

And in case you were wondering, it’s bad news for anyone who hoped Brexit would sort it all out - AML was transposed into UK law last June and GDPR legislation is already on course to be enshrined into law later this year.


The second panel debate of the day saw Head of AVRillo’s property department Tony Picarillo, My Home Move’s Group Sales Director Dev Malle, Paul Smee from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, and Trading Standards' James Munro, who stepped in at the last minute, take questions from the floor in a fast-paced discussion on improving the homebuying and selling process.

The topic of conversation veered back to regulation, with one delegate asking if stricter guidelines would make the sector more professional. Whilst James Munro said that the sector was not only crying out for regulation but also professional recognition, Paul Smee commented that regulation would only make agencies more compliant, and to pursue it as the sole route to professionalism would fail.

Ultimately, the panel were agreed that there is no silver bullet to fix the broken housing market.


Internationally renowned keynote speaker Jim Lawless blew audiences away with his Taming Tigers technique - a framework that saw him become a professional jockey in just 12 months and be the first Britain to free dive to 100 metres on just one breath!

His 10 rules to tiger taming challenged attendees to simplify and own their objectives, to act boldly, adapt to their surroundings, hold the pen to write their own story and tackle the adventure ahead.

Jim's entertaining and active session, during which he encouraged the audience to gallop along with him, left delegates feeling motivated and inspired - albeit a little puffed out.


Rounding off the day, Grainne Gilmore, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, presented an insightful session on the state of the current market. Pointing out that whilst growth in London is down 0.5 per cent, outlook in the Midland and the South West is strong, with national growth up 3.2 per cent overall.

With another rise on the way, Grianne touched on upcoming interest rates and advised delegates to watch out for the arrival of Crossrail in London and who was calling 10 Downing Street their home. But whilst Brexit, tax changes and general political uncertainty have all influenced house prices, the UK is still on track, with Knight Frank forecasting an average 14.2 per cent growth by 2021.

You can find even more highlights from the day, including our online image gallery, here.