Smoke and mirrors – the tools of a magician

All good magicians have their favourite tricks. For many years I had no idea how a magician asked a person to lay in a box, you would see their head at one end and their feet at the other. And then a huge saw would be brought out and the magician would cut the person in half! No screaming, no blood, not even a tear. The two halves of the body would be spun around and then with a quick Piff, Paff, Puff the person was in the words of Atomic Kitten ‘whole again’, not even a scratch?

I have come to understand that many magicians work in our own industry of Estate Agency. Luckily I have not seen anyone cut someone in half yet however, the use of smoke and mirrors is common practice

So what do I mean by the use of smoke and mirrors?

Magicians use smoke to distract an audience, to blur their line of sight, which makes an audience believe the things they can see and the magician allows them to use their imagination to fill in the grey areas that they can’t. The magician already knows through subtle signals, signs and sounds how the audiences mind will fill in the grey areas so they, the audience, see’s what the magician wants them to believe.

A great example of this in our industry is when agents over price a property.

Yet with a little use of smoke, telling a customer about the last house that sold in a week, the one that sold over asking price, the one where they sold a property they took from another competitor, that their house is the best they have seen this month, that the house will sell in 14 days then suddenly an agent starts to look invincible. And achieving an over inflated price is suddenly possible!

The second magician’s trick is the use of mirrors. They always help a magician to hide what they do not want you to see. Therefore your mind makes decisions on what is clearly seen, rather than being able to make a decision based on all the information that is relevant. A magician understands what piece of information is so spectacular that the audience will not sense check its relevance in relation to an end goal.

A great example of this in our industry is when the valuer of an agents aim is to take on a home to meet a listing target, to make a bonus payment.

With a little use of the magicians mirrors by showing customers single use statistics an agent will only show you want they want you to see, for example:

“I would like to show you how we are the Number 1 agent in the City for listing new properties”


“I would would like to show you that we sell the most houses in the City / this area”

Again all of a sudden the ‘one off’ stats are so spectacular that they build confidence quickly. As the single stat tells a story of complete success and domination it all leads to an easy, successful sale…. So it seems?

Smoke and mirrors are used to take away the need for the customer to ask the important questions;

How is this achieved?

What process do you use?

Does every customer see the same result?

How does your contract work? And

Are there any default fees?

So what is being hidden?

Many of these agents have a sales success rate that rarely goes beyond 60%, yes that is right, they only sell 6 in 10 properties! At best this is a very average success rate. Remember that means 1 in 2 agents are below this figure.

Nearly all who use the tricks of smoke and mirrors do so because they normally lack the marketing tools or resources. They cannot compete with their competition when attracting potential buyers, They cannot produce marketing assets that showcase a property to its full potential and they cannot afford to service a small amount of customers well as they can not guarantee that a property will be sold therefore their service, like their risk, is spread thinly across numerous clients.

SO…. If you want to blow the magicians smoke away and smash their mirrors ask the simple question. What is your success rate?

Which means, what percentage of homes are sold from their initial instructions? A very simple stat that clearly shows the clients their chance of success with the agent they are looking to instruct.

Success rates are shown below:

-50% Below average

50% to 60% Very average

60% to 75% Above average

75% to 90% Very good

90% to 100% Exceptional

Back to my person who seemed to be cut in half, was I hoodwinked? It looked real, was it truly magic?


Inside the box prior to the start of the performance is a person hidden in an enclosed area, the second person jumps in, both contortionists who fit themselves in two separate compartments that can be separated.

It looks real! But at no point was a single person cut into two!

So if you see someone who should be pulling rabbits out of a hat, you should be at a circus, if not clear the smoke, move the mirrors and ask the right question. How successful are you?

If you need any help selling your property, without the use as a smoke machine and a mobile mirror, call Tortoise Property 01733 592020.

Mike Matthews

Tortoise Property