£18,500, 1987, bought via an estate agent in Shaw.

Yes: £18,500.

Cost of my first home at the tender age of 22 in Oldham, Greater Manchester in 1987.

It was cheap for a reason.

My salary as a probationary English teacher was £8,137 or £425 a month which was decent back then, when the house cost slightly more than double my salary.

There were other reasons too.

The terraced house was on a busy main road, with a handy unmade driveway at the rear, meaning it was a criminal hotspot for car thefts and burglaries. I was burgled when out of the house and even when I was in it. I blame VCRs which cost back then as much as I earned in a month.

I remember too who I bought and sold it with: Ryder and Dutton, an estate agent in Shaw. I saw it in the Oldham Chronicle and whilst wandering Shaw high street and thought it looked a bargain.

Property has fascinated me ever since. I moved to Staffordshire in 1996, buying a bungalow in Cheddleton, near Leek, from Butters and selling it via Daniel and Hulme (because we bought a new build in Waterhouses through them when first married in 1999).

Moving north to Scunthorpe meant a Ben Bailey new build, selling it almost ten years ago, through Grice and Hunter and buying our Norfolk Edwardian pile for Monopoly money in 2008 from a dual agency, who both were less than honest.

Sold that last year to downsize through emoov, simply because when I’d set up as an estate agency here, there was the expected shark-infested waters of rival agencies bad-mouthing us (mainly the one who was economical with the truth when we bought our Edwardian pile). Russell Quirk is great too.

We bought a new Persimmon home through the developer and as Piaf croons, “We have no regrets.”

Okay, you didn’t come to this blog to read the potted property This is Your Life of Stuart Walton, but to hopefully read what I can do for you as estate agents.

Here goes:

  1. Daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly blogs at £45 each for 500 words of witty writing, a branded image and some SEO research thrown in. Price reduces with the more you order too. Not quite BOGOF but discounts kick in for you as an estate agent.
  2. Proofread your site, emails, PDFs, brochures, listings, whatever. I can spot an error quickly and screenshot it and send it back to you in an instant, all checked and ready to print or send. Three companies pay me to do this regularly: one pays £100 and get 5 hours of checking and I remind them when the egg timer is done. Others pay me £10 to £50 on pay as go, cheaper than a red face on a print run or lost face in a bid or tender.
  3. Manage your social media accounts. Post an engaging status to Facebook daily, interact and converse on there as your brand voice and design Facebook ads and target an audience with key demographics. Tweet 10 times a day – not the “New Property here” white noise of crap content but evergreen tweets to engage and feed SEO. Instagram – property selfies and staff selfies work a treat, as do the hashtags and captions. Pinterest – image and URL to a property or blog. LinkedIn – your individual staff profiles can be built and developed as well as company pages as I’m a bit of a LinkedIn pro. I daren’t use guru – because it often means knows very little.
  4. Chat. I’m in two chat affiliation programmes, having trialled both with other clients and if you want Live Chat or AI Bot chat, ask me. I will pay you back for that sort of loyalty.
  5. Generate leads. The life blood of any estate agency is the hopeful valuation visit and magical permission to list. Unless you’re purple though, you don’t get paid until it sells. I can help it sell by blogging, targeted social media campaigns to get people contacting you to view and make offers. Before that though, you have to establish your brand as trustworthy, responsible and informative – a great content marketing strategy can do that – for far less than a leafletting campaign when you time travel back to 1987, hoping that someone will sell with you in the doorstep debris of pizza and window cleaning offers. Leads come from word of mouth, your network and your sphere of influence – content, good content, not boring beige blogs, will get you leads, longer term.

So there you have it: Stuart Walton, LinkedIn whore, English teacher, estate agent, writer and savvy social media bod, giving you advice on how to make your business, your estate or letting agency, more successful.

Email me: [email protected] or ring my mobile 07462923476 any time and if you’re not PPI, a web design firm, a SEO agency, I’ll answer.

I’m waiting.