Keller Williams UK
Workplace conflict affects performance

Workplace conflict affects performance

How conflict in the workplace affects performance

Have you ever experienced conflict in your working environment?

Are you in the middle of it right now?

Does it occur regularly?

Do you agree with all decisions your Boss/Director makes?

If you answered yes to any of the first 3 questions or a no to the last. What would it feel like to work every day – free from it?

I’ve experienced many forms of conflict, not always from individuals. I have disagreed with business policies that affected my enjoyment at work. I have endured a clash of personalities, and this can be the worse kind. Sometimes not even wanting to go to work. That’s not right.

There is not a Manager/Director that gets every decision right. Mistakes happen – I’ve made plenty in my career, and sometimes it’s taken too long to realise them. I should have learned faster, but I have always lived my life trying to make the right call.

My experience of conflict ranges from being an employee and then as a CEO. While the positioning is different, they affected me in the same way.

  1. Unhappiness
  2. Dip in performance
  3. Lack of peace of mind

When your mind is not clear, you are prone to make mistakes, and without doubt, all 3 issues above affected my mental health.

I can be decisive and will back my judgement, but I make better choices when I have a positive mindset.

Positivity changes lives. I’ve seen it in myself and see it every day in my working life. I work with like-minded people, and it has made me a better person both professionally and personally. You have to seek a new approach, and you need to want it.

I can safely say since April 2019, when I first met the Keller Williams UK leadership team, my life has improved beyond what I thought was possible.

And that’s my point – we all have limiting beliefs. It’s natural, but what we think is impossible can become a reality. Freeing the mind of doubt/fear is a revelation. Focusing on gratitude has been life-changing. I no longer want or accept negativity, it is my choice. I read more now, I want to learn, and I want to improve, I am a work in progress but feel far better in myself.

How has this happened? – the old Mark would have discarded most of the above, but the people you work with can positively influence you. If they don’t, find ones that can and will inspire you.

Living with any form of conflict clouds the mind, breeds negativity, and from experience, it is difficult to overcome. Once trust breaks, I don’t believe it is possible to work at the required level – together.

The people you surround yourself with, matters.

Mark Readings is our Operating Principal at Keller Williams Plus and the CTO of Keller Williams UK.

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A Decade of Essex House Prices

A Decade of Essex House Prices

A Decade of Essex House Prices – Which Areas Are The Winners?

Using the latest HM Land Registry data available its evident that the country has seen decent house price growth in the past 10 years – up 39.8% since the end of 2009. That’s a palatable, some would say healthy near 4% per annum on average.

Closer to home though and a deeper dive into the data reveals that Essex has outstripped the England performance by some margin. It trounced it in fact.

Essex saw good growth in the ‘twenty-teens’ and surged 53.5% overall. That’s 36% higher than the England average. Why?

‘Because our county is an ultra- desirable place to live with great schools, lots of green open space, a fantastic road network and it’s most westerly parts can reach the City by fast-train in less than 25 minutes. We have the longest coastline in Britain and we’re on the doorstep of international airports and rail stations, the O2 and of course, numerous Premiership football clubs. No wonder prices here rise more than other areas’, says Russell Quirk, the well-known Shenfield and Brentwood estate agent and property expert who compiled the data.

Of particular note within the county are the following highlights:
• The area with the greatest rise in house prices in the last decade is Harlow at 69.6%
• The area with the slowest growth in the last decade is Uttlesford
• The highest house prices locally can be found in Epping Forest at £471,374
• The cheapest area in the county is Colchester at £266,989
• There are significant disparities in the more recent, 2019 vs 2018 performances per local authority area with, for instance, Utttlesford dropping in value by 1.34% since 2018 and Braintree dropping similarly yet Epping Forest gaining 4.42% followed by Chelmsford rising by 3.15%. Therefore a very mixed picture when shorter time periods are analysed.

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Mark Readings – Why

Mark Readings – Why

I am an estate agent.

I love being an estate agent. I say it with pride and enjoy my work.

I started in the industry 16 years ago with the sole purpose of improving customer service. I was 28 at the time, and I had just sold a property through a high street estate agent, but I did not enjoy the process. I showed viewers around my home, I negotiated at the appointment, and I only heard from my agent two times before exchange. I felt exposed, with limited support and communication was not what I expected.

Now, this could have been one lousy estate agent, so I researched the market and spoke to family members, but everyone reported that this was in general, ‘normal’. The most positive comment was ‘best of a bad bunch’.

I set about trying to solve the problem and assisted over 13,000 sellers, but there was still something missing. Time.

Buyers and sellers need guaranteed time from their chosen estate agent. The person they first met and trusted, not a junior staff member or a team of agents they have never met.

Most estate agencies work on volume, listing as many homes as they can and making it a numbers game. They are transactional, not relationship-based. They impose strict targets on staff, which encourages bad behaviour, and they close when most people have returned home from working all day.

I have launched my agency to create relationships, to limit my customer base, guarantee my time to a select few, be available until I go to bed and deliver US customer service. It’s personal.

I am doing this to create a legacy for my family, for my three boys, to make them proud and follow my dedication to helping people. That does not mean they have to become estate agents. I would prefer they find what ‘they’ love doing, but I want them to understand the meaning of hard work and dedication, to care.

Sound different? – Great.

I am happy to offer any property related advice, so get in touch for a general chat!

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Taking it Personally

At any one time across the UK one million homes are being marketed for sale or for rent. That’s about 4% of the country’s property stock seeking a new occupant each month.

Those tasked with facilitating such transactions are one of the oldest professions in the land – estate agents. (Not quite the oldest profession, that’s something else entirely).

On average, according to Zoopla, it takes a UK home seller 50 days to find a buyer for their home. And then there’s the legal process known as ‘conveyancing’ and this takes, together with mortgage arrangements and so on, several weeks. In all, the home moving process could take between 3 and 6 months.

When we consider the time that it takes to move home, shouldn’t we also consider this in the context of how important it is to choose your estate agent carefully? I mean, you are deciding upon a relationship that will last for perhaps six months and may involve daily interaction. It takes celebrities longer than that to get married and divorced sometimes!

And, what about the 9 to 5? By that I mean, do you think you’ll need to interact with an agent outside of your own working hours? Evenings, weekends, perhaps an early morning query here and there? If so, bear in mind that the vast majority of estate agents are very, very traditional in their opening hours and will mostly only talk to you when, ironically, you’re busy during the day.

The property industry in the United States does ‘service’ really well. They approach customer relationships with enthusiasm and encourage 24/7 contact and, frankly, they’re really nice about how they deal with people. They respect and appreciate their customers properly as, after all, they are paying them good money and no more so that when it comes to estate agency fees and which in the US are as high as 6%. In the UK, selling fees are amongst the lowest in the world – but does that mean that we should expect to compromise on how well we are looked after? No, exactly.

But there’s a problem here. In our country the property industry is dominated by branch offices and there are about 20,000 estate agency offices dotted across the British Isles. This sounds fine until you realise that many agency companies have hundreds of branches all under different brands and it’s confusing in that you might not like, say Spicer McColl very much but did not realise that they are the same business as Haart, Darlows and Felicity J Lord. Or that whilst you want to avoid Bairstow Eves, they are one and the same as Abbotts, Mann and Co, John D Wood, Taylors and Green & Co all part of the loss-making Countrywide PLC group.

I mention loss-making because it’s important in the context of this subject, that of being looked after properly by your estate agent. Not only are many of the big names like Foxtons and Countrywide losing money right now, they are slashing costs accordingly and this may affect you if they skimp on staff and administration efficiency or, importantly, marketing investment. But above all, it means that their staff may be squeezed. Lower salaries, less commission and the result? A much less motivated workforce. If an army marches on its stomach, you don’t want your agent to be ‘hangry’ whilst dealing with you and your prospective buyers.

Plus, typically in our country, individual agents earn just 5% to 10% of the fee that you pay. After tax this isn’t a lot of money in most cases – especially for six months’ work and so no wonder the UK property industry has a pretty poor reputation for customer service.

The US model is now here in the UK. Keller Williams is a business that has expanded across the States with over 150,000 agents there and, intriguingly, 10,000 of them are millionaires. They earn big money. In fact, each agent earns the bulk of the selling commission that the client pays. What difference does this make? It makes for happy, motivated and enthusiastic agents that are enthusiastic about you and your property because they have a lot riding on the success of a sale. They don’t resent dealing with you out of hours and responding to a WhatsApp message on a Sunday afternoon or at nine at night. The service they deliver is better and you, the customer, get a better service and a better result – rather than your fee being channelled to multiple office rents, business rates and senior management BMWs.

So when choosing an agent to look after you and your sale, do you choose a motivated agent that will be there throughout? Or an under-paid corporate type that is rather less enthusiastic?

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How is the Exodus of Eastern Europeans Affecting the Brentwood Property Market

How is the Exodus of Eastern Europeans Affecting the Brentwood Property Market

How is the “Exodus” of Eastern Europeans Affecting the Brentwood Property Market?

I was having a thought-provoking conversation with a Brentwood buy-to-let landlord a few weeks ago about everything to do with property, Brexit and how the reported voluntary repatriation of Eastern Europeans had affected the property market in Brentwood.  It transpired some of his Brentwood tenants, who had been in his property for over 10 years were returning to Poland.  He was particularly disappointed as he told me they were some of the best, if not the best, tenants he had ever had.

In 2004, eight Eastern European countries joined the European Union and by 2015, EU net migration from those Eastern European Accession states (also known as the EU8), there was a net migration of an additional 42,000 EU8 adults per year coming into the UK, which equated for our local area of Brentwood an additional 23 adults per year coming into the area in 2015 alone.

Yet by 2018, net migration had reversed and that saw 8 more EU8 citizens leave than arrive to live in Brentwood

… and in the last set of figures released for year up to the Summer of 2019, net EU8 migration for Brentwood was a net loss of 4 EU8 people for the year.  These are not huge numbers, considering ..

EU8 citizens only make up 0.83% of the population in Brentwood

Yes, at the last count there were 611 EU8 European citizens living in our local area out of a population of 73,601.

Its fascinating that 35.7% of the EU8 citizens that came across to the UK after 2004 were degree level educated compared to the 3.18% of adult citizens born in the UK, yet of all the EU8 citizens in the country, 65.9% of are in private rented accommodation, 9.6% in social housing and 24.5% are home owners.

It is certain that migration of Eastern Europeans, especially in the early years of 2004 to 2010, made a huge impact on the Brentwood rental property market – yet as time has gone on, families have started to put roots down and bring children into the world.  Brentwood landlords buying all the rental properties for this new demand meant house prices for homeowners bounced back particular well after the global financial crisis / credit crunch of 2008/9.

Again, looking at the figures, a good proportion of EU8 citizens have become homeowners and even landlords.

Yes, there is small number of Brentwood EU8 citizens leaving as they have had the dilemma on whether they should stay or go, and some families, using the wealth that they have built up whilst working in the Country have returned to their home country or other EU member states.  Decisions like that are not easily made and often tainted with dejection and disappointment – yet again, looking at the numbers, this is very much the minority.  As an agent, we are seeing European people (not just EU8 countries) come and European people go, and it was like that before 2016 and to answer the question … we believe we have a case of ‘bad news’ selling newspapers yet again.

Of course if one of your star tenants leaves your Brentwood rental property and then you read an article about mass migration in one the red top newspapers or Daily Mail, it is going to worry you (like it did my Brentwood landlord friend), yet with the information we shared with him – it has put his mind at rest (and the best part – we were able to find him a new tenant within the week – who ironically also came from Europe to live and work in the UK!).

To conclude, hopefully the end is in sight with Brexit, it would be a huge loss for the Country to see its embedded and settled European community depart as it must be quite melancholic for our fellow Europeans to even have to deliberate such a life changing move.  All I can say is I think we are all eagerly anticipating the ‘B-word’ situation becoming stable again so that all of us, wherever we originate from, can reasonably plan our future in our sceptered isle.

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Mortgage Debt of Brentwood homeowners

Mortgage Debt of Brentwood homeowners

Irrespective of the shenanigans and political goings on in Westminster recently, the housing market (for the time being anyway) shows a striking resilience, fostered by the on-going wide-ranging monetary policy by the Bank of England. With interest rates and unemployment low, UKplc is heading into 2020 in reasonable condition. Additionally, despite the UK’s new homes industry improving its year on year new build figures (building 173,660 new homes this year to date – notably 8% more new homes than at the same time last year), there has been an unequal increase in demand for housing, especially in the most thriving areas of the Country.

With the discussion on whether the younger generation can afford to buy, it is true the average cost of a UK property in the early 1970’s was 3.8 times the average salary yet, nationally, it now stands at 8.4 times. On the face of it that doesn’t look good in anyone’s books – yet that isn’t the full story because it doesn’t reflect inflation and interest rates when it comes to the cost of borrowing money in relation to a mortgage for property.

The current level of mortgage interest rates has not been seen for many generations, meaning there are whole cohorts of the Brentwood home-owning population who have no appreciation of the pandemonium that will eat into their household budgets should we ever return to the average historical cost of borrowing (interest rates jumped to 15% in 1992 – which wasn’t that long ago and between 2003 and 2007 they were on average 4.9%).

Now, once first-time buyers have jumped the hurdle of saving enough for a 5% deposit, which is hard with rents and many carrying loans of personal debt (unsecured loans), first-time buyers are currently spending an average one sixth of their salary on their mortgage, meaning mortgage arrears are at historical lows. However, on the other side of the coin repossessions have started to grow, with 6,180 repossession orders made in the last quarter, a 55% jump from 2017, yet nowhere near the 2009 high of 29,145 in the first quarter of 2009.

Therefore, this week’s discussion on the Brentwood property market is – where are we with lending (mortgages and unsecured loans) and how is it affecting the Brentwood, and national, property market?

One vital measure of the property market (and economy) is the mortgage market. If all the mortgages were added up, they would total £968.1bn; a lot when you consider the UK’s GDP is only £2,190.1bn. Mortgages are important as uncertainty causes building societies and banks to curtail lending (remember what happened in the Credit Crunch) and that seriously affects property prices. Then we have unsecured personal loans; interestingly the average Brit owes £991.42 in unsecured loans, a total of £36.1bn.

Lending is the lifeblood of our economy. Go back to 2007, and the phrase ‘Credit Crunch’ hadn’t been invented, yet now the term has entered our everyday language. In the autumn of 2007 it took a couple months before the crunch began to affect the Brentwood property market, but in early 2008, and for the following year and half, Brentwood property values dropped each month like a stone.

Mercifully, after a phase of sluggishness, in 2011 the Brentwood property market started to recover slowly as certitude returned to the economy as a whole and in 2013 Brentwood property values started to rise as the economy sped upwards. Happily, the Bank of England recognised the start of another boom and bust cycle, so in Spring of 2015, new rules for mortgage lending were introduced and for the following few years we have seen a reappearance to more credible and steady medium-term property price growth.

Brentwood Property Values are 66.8% higher since the Credit Crunch

And what of the other side of the coin in terms of excess lending in Brentwood?

Since 1977, the average Bank of England interest rate has been 6.65%, making the current low rate of 0.75% very low indeed. Yet the issue isn’t the amount of lending, as much as the persons ability to pay. Therefore, whether a person’s mortgage is fixed or not is more important than the amount owed.

Thankfully, the proportion of borrowers fixing their mortgage rate has gone from 31.5% in the autumn of 2012 to the current 70.2%. If you haven’t fixed your mortgage – maybe you should follow the majority?

The total cost of mortgages owed by people in Brentwood is £2,437,920,232
(Based on the CM13 – CM15 postcodes)

In my modest opinion, if things do get a little rocky and uncertainty seeps back in the coming years (and nobody knows what will happen on that front), interest rates can only go one way from their current ultra low level of 0.75% ….and that is why I consider it important to highlight this to all the homeowners and landlords of Brentwood. Maybe, just maybe, you might want to consider taking some advice from one of the many qualified mortgage advisors in Brentwood?

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