I see a lot of things in estate agency. It’s an incredibly varied world of mystery where the truth is often held in a place until ultimately it’s too late. I’ve met too many smart people in incredibly frustrating situations. I’m writing this specific blog solely with the purpose that it will help other people not end up in the same situation as Mrs Smith (I’ve changed her name). Or if they do, they do so with their eyes open.
I first spoke to Mrs Smith at the beginning of February. She had a property I would expect to sell quickly at the right price as it’s in short demand and in a good postcode. She already had it on the market with an estate agent. I had a look at the details and the quality of photos were very poor and the asking price was at the top end of what that type of property could ask for. It’s not the first time I’d seen a high price with terrible marketing, but she had gone with an estate agent where you paid a reduced fee regardless of the outcome. She was committed, but ultimately full of hope.
I spoke with Mrs Smith a few times over the next few months and her enthusiasm had given way to confusion, frustration and in the end, a feeling of being entirely stuck. She’d had 3 viewings and had fallen out with her point of contact. She’s a really nice lady, who just needs some clear advice and help to get her where she wants to go.
The reality of the situation is that she’d been told by X company that her property was worth £Y. It probably wasn’t and definitely wouldn’t achieve that price with the quality of work and effort that was going in to her sale (very poor and none). If her choice had generated success, she’d have saved about £1,800 over paying a roughly standard estate agency fee and that would enable her to move. It’s a lot of money to save and I’ve seen enough massively frustrated people that have dealt with estate agents to know that if she’d gone the other way, she may not be any less frustrated with the process.
The one thing this always comes down to is TRANSPARENCY of service. She had been told her choice of company (I’m not sure they qualify as agents) would provide a very thorough, exacting service full of quality and results. They’re certainly not the only company to blow their own trumpet in this market place, but there’s only one person their lack of transparency has cost and that is the nice lady. If they had said “You’ve got a 30% chance of us actually completing a sale for you, so the risk is that we won’t sell your home, but our £800 fee will still be due. But if it does sell, you’ll save £1800.” Would she have gone for it? I don’t honestly know, but I know that she would have made her own informed choice. She may not have tried moving at those risk levels.
Would you risk £800 in the hope of winning £1800 at a 30% win rate? I don’t personally gamble but I’m sure some people would risk it. I don’t have Mrs Smith down as a gambler with her money. She doesn’t have £800 to gamble.
The more transparency this industry has the better; for everyone involved, but especially those that are doing the wholly stressful thing of moving.