It seems as though everywhere I turn at the moment (TV, newspapers, blogs) there are people moaning about estate agents. I don’t know about elsewhere in the world, but here in the UK we seem to love to hate estate agents.
As you probably already know, my husband is an estate agent of 25+ years’ experience, and knowing as I do how much hard work he puts into getting the best results for his clients, frequently going above and beyond the call of duty, I thought I’d put some thoughts across from the other side.
First of all, if we have a bad experience with one solicitor, or one florist, or one coffee shop, do we then say ‘oh, all solicitors are crap / all florists are rubbish / all coffee shops are overpriced con merchants’?
So why malign a whole profession after one bad experience with an estate agent? I’ve seen it time and again.
Just as in every walk of life, there are good, bad and indifferent.
Don’t like Tesco? Shop at Sainsburys.
Don’t like one estate agent? Use a different one. Or, as is increasingly an option these days, use an online one at a fraction of the cost.
One of the problems seems to be that people always think they know better than estate agents. Even my mother-in-law, whose house is currently on the market with her son, popped into my husband’s office last week to give him some advice on what he should be doing to increase the interest in her property!!!! (This from a woman who hasn’t held down a job since the early 1960s – as a hairdresser). Ashley did invite her to put her house on the market with another agent instead, but pointed out that they probably wouldn’t sell it for free, like he is (naturally) doing ….
So this ‘I know better than the agent’ mentality is ingrained in us all, it seems.
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I told Ashley I was writing this piece, and asked him if there was anything he wanted to say, and he gave me the following:
If you cannot find the property which meets your expectations and within your budget, within a reasonable amount of time, you need to readjust either your expectations or your budget.
If your house is taking a long time to sell, there are normally only three possible reasons for this (though they can overlap – like a Venn diagram):
- Marketing – when you interview potential agents to sell your home, if they don’t volunteer information about how they will market it (which any decent agent should), ask them.
- Price – nobody wants to be told their house is not worth as much as they’d like it to be worth, but, if you want to sell it, you need to price it realistically. If it’s overpriced, you won’t get people through the door. Again, a decent agent should not overvalue a house just to get the business, and should give you an honest valuation, backed up by hard facts.
- Vendor motivation – just as there will always be people who go and view houses for sale almost as a hobby, with no intention of moving (yes, I’m looking at my mother-in-law again), there are also people who will put their house on the market with very little intention of actually moving. If a vendor is unmotivated, they will not take on board the advice of their agent regarding marketing or price, and will therefore likely remain on the market unsold. My friend B’s property has been on the market for almost two years. She’s not bothered whether she moves or not (house has to be seen to be on the market due to divorce), she won’t have a for sale board outside the property and her house is overpriced.
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I think it’s also important to remember that the estate agent works for the vendor, not the purchaser, because it’s the vendor who pays him (only if the house is sold, mind you).
Contrary to popular belief, agents do not want to force you to go and view properties that are totally unsuitable for you. Why would they do so? It’s a waste of their time. They will, on the other hand, give you an overview of the properties they have for sale, possibly even recommend viewing particular ones (they are, after all, salespeople), but ultimately the person who chooses whether or not to view a property is the potential purchaser.
I was in Ashley’s office last week and there was a man being very shirty and unpleasant with one of the girls because she couldn’t arrange a viewing for him on a property for a particular day because the vendor had requested no viewings on that day. He was banging on about how that was his only day off, he couldn’t see it any other time, they obviously didn’t want his money blah blah blah. (Laughably, as the member of staff subsequently told me, he wasn’t even in a position to buy as he needed to sell his current house, which wasn’t even yet on the market!) No doubt he was another one who went off ranting to his mates down the pub about how all estate agents are lying bastards.
So, yeah, I’m a bit sick of all the hate. My husband and all his staff work six long days every week, bend over backwards to accommodate both vendors and potential purchasers, take numerous phone calls out of hours (clients on the phone while we’re eating Sunday breakfast, while we’re away on holiday (oh yes), while we’re out with friends on a Saturday night), and they don’t get paid unless they sell the property (at a price agreed upon by the vendor).
So next time anybody wants to paint an entire profession as useless, robbing scoundrels, just maybe consider first that it’s not always fair to tar everybody with the same brush.