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Do you think estate agents favour certain clients over others and work harder to sell their houses?

(51 Posts)
bumbledoor Tue 27-Jan-15 14:55:02

I tried to sell last year in London, I am not a fan of estate agents but suffered them gladly rather than going out of my way to be nice to them. My home is in a great location/catchment, big, spacious Victorian, reasonably clean, some original features large garden (rare in our part of zone 3). During the few weeks I had it on, I found the agents to be really insipid and actually critical of my house just because they could not sell it. The sorts of reasons they were coming up with were along the lines of 'One of your bedrooms isn't a double, buyers don't like large gardens bc gardening is a hassle, there is a bit of skirting missing there around 5cm, one room doesn't have a ceiling rose ; buyers like original features absolutely everywhere, not just in half of the house.....etc etc. I was really sad about all of this and even dropped the price in response but it made no difference and I took it off within weeks. Now, I am feeling bad bc I wanted to move but never did, I keep an eye on what they have sold and how much they advertize those houses for and as far as I can see, there is nothing great about those houses. All I can say for sure is that the descriptions and photography is better and those houses do take longer to sell than the time I had mine on for. I guess I would like some advice re trying again. Do you think Feb is a good time to remarket or should I wait until after the elections? Should I go back with a local agent (same/different) or try an internet agent (if so, which one) purely to be able to market at a lower price thereby passing on the cost saving? As I said, this is one of the most popular parts of London and it is embarrassing and baffling as to why this happened even though the market had begun to quieten down at that stage.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Tue 27-Jan-15 14:57:42

Different agent. Some are rubbish.

JoanHickson Tue 27-Jan-15 14:57:51

You would think they want commission and would want to sell your home. Has the market slowed down or is it a company with an animal in the first three letters of their name?

hereandtherex Tue 27-Jan-15 16:04:00

In the old, pre-Rightmove days you might have a point.

If they've listed the house on Rightmove and the description is accurate then you can guarantee it has been looked over by any buyers in the area.

Lack of interest will solely be down to the price and the house.

hereandtherex Tue 27-Jan-15 16:08:02

EAs do want the commission - they are not paid until the house sells, thats Sells as money being exchanged rather than a SSTC notice being put up.

EAs have finite time. They are going to spend that time on houses most likely to sell. And they ought ot have a reasonable idea to what's selling locally and and what price.

hereandtherex Tue 27-Jan-15 16:09:15

Cost savings of real EA (1%-2%) versus internet (fixed price or 0.5%) are pretty marginal if you have the For Sale price wrong.

Boofy27 Tue 27-Jan-15 16:21:49

Even if an estate agent is never going to be on the top of your dinner party invitation list, you need to work with them. Most importantly, you need to take their advice on the marketing price, then you need to do the work they recommend to get your house ready for sale.

You need to be the happy, positive, jolly vendor who will take viewings at short notice. If they know that they can tack on a viewing of your house onto the viewing of any other house within the same price bracket and know that they will be bringing potential buyers into a clean, tidy house that smells of (Method) floor polish and is filled with flowers, they will do exactly that.

If you really want to move get three of them in for a beauty contest and decide which you will find least offensive and remember that the closer you follow their advice, the shorter the relationship will be.

My house when up for sale Christmas week and I'd received two full asking price offers by New Year. I don't think that there is a bad time to market, just a bad way to market.

bumbledoor Tue 27-Jan-15 17:08:50

The price point is relevant, thanks. There were houses going for 200k more on my road a few months before and I never understood why they were undervaluing my property upon the basis that the market was slowing down when the statistics were not grim enough to justify it. I asked for the higher price and they said they would have a go but it never worked. I think the difference it makes to their commission is relatively insignificant compered to the difference it would have made to my budget. Saying that, I am unlikely to get conservative valuations as high as what they were giving at the start of the summer. It just annoyed me that houses they were describing as bigger were identical in sqm to mine and there were others with fussy, bright colours and purple baths which they were saying were in better condition when mine had been recently modernised.

bumbledoor Tue 27-Jan-15 17:12:30

Btw my own valuation was not wildly unrealistic .. I just based it on the previous six months of sales in my immediate vicinity but, I agree, it never produced a great result. All the internet agents advertise on rightmove so i am thinking £500 as opposed to £20,000 or more is a big difference. However, no point undercutting the competition out of desperation if people are not really buying atm?

RaphaellaTheSpanishWaterDog Tue 27-Jan-15 17:27:29

I'm not a huge fan of EAs either and considered using an online (as opposed to high street) one when we were selling last year, but because we were in a location (rural South Wilts) where houses were taking up to twelve months to sell and we'd already found the house we wanted to buy we opted for the 'devil we knew' as we felt we would benefit from their experience in the area.

We had five round to value and chose the middle one - both in price valued at and size of company. Unfortunately we weren't to know our chosen branch had had their manager head-hunted by Hamptons and within a short while we were left with a skeleton staff managing the office. Things improved when the manager of the next closest branch became involved with our marketing, although we still ended up doing around half the viewings ourselves.....but there were only six viewings in total so not too bad!

Extremely fortunately we accepted an asking price offer in early October - within only five weeks - but, tbh, I put that down to the fact that we were realistic about what price we could achieve.

The houses that are for sale in our old vilłage now are the deluded ones - two that refuse to drop their - obviously over the top - price and one that thinks he can achieve £100k more than he paid in Sept, having given it a quick splash of magnolia and stuck it back on in Dec!

Setting the right price is key imho......

bumbledoor Tue 27-Jan-15 18:14:47

Yes, it is hard to know. The problem with the London market is that there doesn't really seem to be any logic to the prices being achieved even between properties on the same road. In the past, you could assume that they might be bigger or better but nowadays, with full photo and spec online as well as EPCs it is not irrational to actually question what is going on. i sympathise re doing the viewings - I had to do them all as well despite having been reassured to the contrary. I suppose I could have kept it on longer than a month but I became disillusioned with the whole process and should have stuck it out

engeika Wed 28-Jan-15 08:47:46

I am just about to market my house and am finding it really hard. I used to work in an EA office and everyone thinks their house is lovely. As an EA I saw only the attraction to a potential buyer and, knowing the local market very well, how the property compared with others in the area.

NOW I am thinking "But those tiles cost £££££ and I love them" or "But the wallpaper is Sanderson and has only been on a year" "But my neighbour's house is the same/worse than mine and went for £XXXX two months ago"

No-one wants my wallpaper sad

EAs earn no money if the house does not sell. That is a pretty good motivator. hereandtherex and Boofy27 make excellent points.

As an aside: Working in an EA office I remember doing so many viewings in houses and waiting for the inevitable comment from the buyer whether it was about a fourth bedroom that really wasn't, (but the vendor insisted was marketed as such) or a hiddeous "recently modernised" bathroom that buyers were potentially ripping out as soon as they opened the door. In the end, if you know the vendor won't drop the price for what ever reason, and you know it is not going to sell it becomes a waste of everybody's time.

shovetheholly Wed 28-Jan-15 10:38:27

I think it depends a great deal on the estate agent, and on where you are in the country. There are visibly more professional outfits in the south-east than in the north, for instance. When I go to London, I notice how slick the marketing for agencies is - up where I live, it is regarded as acceptable to have a cartoon sheep as your estate agency logo.

When I sold my last place, which was in Royston Vesey a Pennine village, the estate agency was local and survived because they were the only ones in the village. They were a complete joke. They had absolutely no clue whatsoever how to write marketing materials. Not only that, they did not - at any point in our contact - manage to put together a sentence that was both grammatically correct and properly spelled.

They would do things like write that the shed was 'old and knackered' in the brochure, and that there was a 'small' front room! And then when you pulled them up and asked them to rewrite, they would get all huffy and say that they were 'only being honest'. I honestly think they only sold any houses because some people (for some unknown reason) wanted to stay there.

Viewings were done by a receptionist who would routinely walk into the houses and say 'Ohhhh, I don't like this one, bit pokey isn't it?'

I know the London market is full of sharp-suited sharks, but better to have a shark than a dead kipper like these guys!

NotCitrus Wed 28-Jan-15 11:21:49

Try to get an agent that mostly sells houses similar to yours, not much larger/smaller/posher - they will be grooming buyers looking for their type of property. Agents used to different buyers will have no idea except to reduce the price.
When we sold a while back, we went with the small local agent who said "flats like yours are our bread and butter" - the chains who looked clearly only wanted smarter properties and thought they could only get about 80% as much for ours. The small agent promised a number of viewers within a week and delivered.

Cacofonix Wed 28-Jan-15 11:38:30

You do need to find an EA you can work with or try and get on with and then you need to develop and maintain the relationship with phone calls, emails and the occasional pop in and chat at their desk. Keep in their minds by contacting and chatting then they will work better for you.

Also agree to find the EA that sells houses most like yours.

Finally if it didn't sell it either has a major flaw or was more likely, priced incorrectly. It's all well and good saying houses on your road sold for more but things like position, garden, next door houses etc will affect the selling price e.g. one house may be at the busy traffic end or have a smaller garden/worse outlook than another a few doors away.

FamilyAdventure Wed 28-Jan-15 11:46:26

I think all the TV programmes about various "tricks" that can be used deceive. Really, the only thing that makes a difference to how saleable a property is is the price.

If you put your house up for £200k more than the EA felt was the correct market price, I'm not surprised they felt it was pointless giving it much time.

Any criticism of a house really should have "for the money" added. e.g. One of the bedrooms isn't a double, which would be expected at this price. Buyers looking to spend £X in this road will be expecting all original features. Buyers won't pay this much for a house that needs work....

bumbledoor Wed 28-Jan-15 13:06:15

That is all very helpful , thanks. I could kick myself for missing that period of insanity when sellers never needed to think about these things. There is a community building next door and I know this may put people off even though honestly speaking, you get much less overall noise from it than you would from even a quiet family . There were no major flaws (as I said recently modified but not by a swanky outfit, more by a handyman) but the price is probably it. So do i see if prices pick up in spring or go for it at a modest price before secondary options come in to play (the reason for wanting to move). The other thing which annoyed me last time around with the agent was the disbelief regarding the fact that I actually wanted £x00,000 given that I only paid a third of the price for it back in the day. He never seemed to understand that I was chasing an absolute shoebox in a more central location which had made even bigger gains and I wasn't about to pocket a lump sum. I sensed that I was being judged as greedy.

bumbledoor Wed 28-Jan-15 13:24:53

One other major problem was my crap sales skills which probably put buyers off. I didn't want to appear to point out the obvious, talk up the house and area, get in the way of their discussions. I never signed up to do that bit but was somehow lumbered with the task of conducting every single viewing. The first one worked well but it went downhill after that. I didn't get the impression some of the couples were even real buyers let alone serious ones - when i asked about lack of viewings one day, they were sent along the next day and seemed disinterested even before they entered. I am not one for freshly baked bread and cut flowers but I found the whole experience negative and frustrating..

JaniceJoplin Wed 28-Jan-15 13:36:05

Out of interest why were you doing your own viewings ? We recently looked at about 30 properties and only once was the owner doing the viewing. I think buyers are a bit inhibited if the owner is there.

Boofy27 Wed 28-Jan-15 13:42:02

I don't think that EAs care much about how greedy you might or might not be until it has an impact on their bottom line. If your house is saleable at the price you want, they will try to sell it, if they think that your idea of it's value is overly optimistic, they won't bother because no one is going to buy it at that price.

If you don't trust the local estate agents to know the market (and that's the only bit of their job that really matters, no one refuses to buy a house because of a badly written description althought they might not view it because of dodgy photos), get a valuation surveyor. I got one when I was trying to buy an ex out of our shared home, I thought the EAs were being a bit optimistic on value and it cost me £700 to confirm the awful truth that they weren't.

WorkingBling Wed 28-Jan-15 13:44:50

In the nicest possible way, I think that perhaps you are part of the problem. You do need to take the EA's advice, even if it's not very appetising. And I agree that ideally the owner shouldn't do viewings. But it sounds like your EA didn't really see the point. I'd get a new EA and listen to them re price etc.

We had an EA round to value our house a few months ago. Friends and family had been going on about how much we could get blah blah blah but I really liked that he was very clear with us and said, "You can sell this house within weeks, but only if you ask for a realistic price and don't even attempt to hope for a bidding war." We didn't want to sell as the viewing was really to get valuations for remortgaging, but it was interesting and I would have been very happy to take his advice, notwithstanding my sister telling me repeatedly we could get £20k more.

newstart15 Wed 28-Jan-15 13:45:33

Can you give some more details? How many EA's gave valuations and what was the average price? What did you put it on for and how many views on RM or viewings did you get?

I guess you have been in the house for a while so it maybe hard for you to get a perspective on what is happening to the market and what buyers want. If you are moving for secondary school then it's likely to impact the family buyers as well. Personally I would not chose to buy a house with a community centre next door, not sure why but it just wouldn't feel residential.

The London market is mad and your next move may be a financial jump but there will be reasons for it, i.e more desirable area.

I think EAs are looking to sell a house, that is their focus and they loathe to have houses stuck on their books. We have a house in our area that has been up for sale for so long and the buyers don't seem to understand that it's vastly overpriced for what it is, as it's very ugly and will need to be knocked down. They have tried every agent in the town and you can't blame the EAs as the price is just too high and it won't sell. I think the owners don't have a realistic view of their home and can't see the problems.

I think Feb is a good time but if the price is wrong then it won't sell.

newstart15 Wed 28-Jan-15 13:48:21

Just realised I didn't answer the question - I don't believe EA's favour certain clients but they do value certain houses (those that they know will sell).

betterworld Wed 28-Jan-15 13:50:18

I think you have answered your own question on why it hasn't sold. A community centre might be quiet now, but what if they start renting it out for late night parties? I would never even view a house next to a community centre, but I know people who buy and expect a good discount.

bumbledoor Wed 28-Jan-15 14:08:41

Yes, i guess I see the logic of all those suggestions. On the positive side, we are in the catchment of THE primary school which draws families here but point regarding the neighbour is true, of course. How about I get some fresh valuations and stick it on with an online agent for offers in excess of <whatever they have suggested>. This would enable me to save on their commission at least and I am not so antisocial and objectionable that I would actually prevent a sale of a good period property. I suppose I ended up jaded too soon and pulled out of the process after a few weeks because I never wanted to conduct viewings during the holidays. It was on for £800k I got loads of views on rightmove and their valuations were around 25-50k less although they all advertised using price bands rather than fixed prices. The photos were not great (my friend who is an indie photographer pointed this out). It just seemed as though they never went the extra mile with my ad whereas for other properties, they were photographing bloody doorknobs and bits of furniture which sounds naff but set the scene as it were. I had interesting and nice 'things' which they could have captured but it somehow seemed irrelevant in my case.

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