I often lament the southern bias of property coverage and how online and print property features concentrate on top-end homes rather than ordinary ones - a necessary evil, to draw in readers who would prefer to see posh homes than basic ones.
An interesting by-product of this is the rivalry between buying agents, or more specifically between PRs representing buying agents. It’s mostly a friendly rivalry but we are at the point where it is getting much tougher for any buying agent to get substantial coverage.
The reason is this.
By my count, 16 full-time active buying agency companies operating in central London have PR-representation. There are also some ‘non-aligned’ individuals with good links to property journalists - from Phil Spencer to estate agents ‘informally’ offering buying advice - pushing the number of ‘buying experts’ available to the press to about 25.
This figure rises to about 40 because larger buying agencies allocate two or three people to speak with us hacks, in order to ring the changes.
On the one hand, 40 ‘voices’ is small compared to the total of buying agencies in central London. The others neither want nor seek press attention. A few simply cannot afford it (exceptional PRs charge £3,500 or more a month, with no guarantee of coverage, although most charge a lot less).
But 25 buying agencies and 40 individuals working within them, all competing for publicity, is very substantial given the few outlets for their comments.
The Times’ Bricks and Mortar and the London Evening Standard are both dominated by central London stories but the others give much less space to the subject.
In the past year most national newspapers and top-end lifestyle mags with property pages have run soft features explaining how buying agents work so these will not be repeated in the near future as editors like to avoid repetition (honestly, they do).
As buying agents rarely provide case studies to humanise stories - their clients are not the sort to pose for press photographers - all that may be left is for these agents to comment on the top-end markets; there are only ever a few such stories running at any one time.
In other words, there are more and more buying agents trying to get a slice of what is a fixed-size media cake - and it’s a tough job for the PRs representing them.
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