20 Best Small Estate Agents - Behind The Scenes

This story here, which appeared in last Saturday’s Telegraph, generated terrific comment on Twitter. Almost all of it was favourable, I’m pleased to say, but I think it is worthwhile expanding on how “Britain’s best small estate agents” were selected.

Firstly, the ‘small’ part. There was no scientific definition but if an agent did not cover the entire country (more accurately, AN entire country - England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland) it was likely to be described as ‘small’ rather than, say, ‘national’.

Therefore there are some unlikely bedmates - agents serving all of central London, for example, rubbing shoulders with one- or two-office firms in the sticks - but short of drawing up multiple categories based on size and office-numbers, that was always set to happen.

My aim was to keep this simple so ‘small’ inevitably covers a fairly wide range.

Secondly, the ‘best’ part. As the story explains, it was a given that almost all agents do what they are supposed to do (and paid by clients to do) but I wanted evidence of doing more - to find examples, I drew on my own 12 years writing about residential property,

I know many of the agencies and consulted over 200 property contacts (not themselves ‘small estate agents’) to get views on who they would like nominating, and why. In addition I asked on Twitter for suggestions - in all cases trying to sift out those nominated by their friends, any marketing or PR representatives or (as in several cases) agents themselves.

A few agents - mainly those who I did not know from having contacted them for stories in the past - were ‘mystery shopped’, too, a particularly fun experience.

In the end, a short-list of about 60 fairly easily whittled itself down to 20.

Because the list is largely personal, in consultation with the Daily Telegraph’s property editorial team of course, there is subjectivity involved - but I can make a very good case for the inclusion of each, and this I tried to convey in the article.

It is not meant to be the only way to judge good agents, nor are these agents the only good ones in the country.

But to my mind it's more independent than the principle of self-nomination by agents for awards, which is common in the industry. In my selection, the agents did not know of the process nor even about the article until after the selection was completed, and of course no fees were involved.

Several tweets asked whether I’d be looking at other aspects of the property business too. I’m very much hoping the Telegraph will also look at ‘large’ national estate agents and perhaps even buying agents too - but if this happens, it will be much later in the year.

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