The view from the bal­cony of how to sell your house

Es­tate agent David Pol­lock has writ­ten a book on the 101 things your es­tate agent agent should tell you when buy­ing and sell­ing a prop­erty. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

IT’S easy to see why doc­u­men­tary mak­ers chose David Pol­lock to star in their pro­gramme Prop­erty Peo­ple.

He’s not afraid of speak­ing his mind and he en­joys do­ing things a lit­tle dif­fer­ently.

His com­pany, Greene and Co., recog­nised by the Sun­day Times as one of the best places to work, is a pro­po­nent of group hugs. It also gives its staff life-coach­ing ses­sions and the day off on their birth­day.

David, whose of­fices cover North Lon­don, also has an in­ter­est­ing ap­proach to buy­ing and sell­ing houses. He dreamed up the Good­will Charter, a doc­u­ment he en­cour­ages buy­ers and sell­ers to sign once a price is set­tled on. They each agree to stick to their side of the deal.

“Mostly they agree to sign,” he says. “ If they don’t, then you’ve got to ask your­self whether they are en­ter­ing into the sale in good faith. And the chances are, they aren’t.”

This and oth­ers pearls of wis­dom are in his new book, 101 things your es­tate agent should tell you when buy­ing and sell­ing a prop­erty. It is full of ad­vice, some of it con­tentious

Mys­tery shop­ping is a cer­tainly a good idea for any con­sumer, though not many peo­ple bother to do it.

“Peo­ple take their big­gest as­set and some­times put it in the hands of a vir­tual ama­teur.

“Call the es­tate agency and see how many rings it takes them to an­swer the phone, go into the of­fices and see what the at­mos­phere and the staff are like,” says David, who also ad­vises knock­ing on doors sport­ing sold signs, so you can ask sell­ers what they thought of the ser­vice they got.

He reck­ons you need to put in an av­er­age of three hours’ work per week, over a pe­riod of 10 weeks. This in­volves re­search­ing agents, de­cid­ing which val­u­a­tion to ac­cept, fol­low­ing up view­ings and chas­ing up so­lic­i­tors and agents. “Those 30 hours will prob­a­bly earn or save you £10,000, which works out at £333 an hour. You’d bite some­one’s hand off if they of­fered you that as a rate of pay, and yet lots of peo­ple aren’t pre­pared to do the work.” He is also a big fan of nag­ging. “Es­tate agents work hard­est for the peo­ple who are the nicest. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t nag them, though. Just do it in a nice way, by pref­ac­ing your re­quest with: ‘Look, I know I must be driv­ing you mad’ .”

More con­tro­ver­sial is his ad­vice to sell­ers to change agents if they don’t sell your home within two months, which sounds harsh, es­pe­cially in this eco­nomic cli­mate. “If you are sure they haven’t over priced it and you’ve sat down with them to dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion with no real pos­i­tive out­come, then I rec­om­mend you change agents,” says David, who has also caused a furore for en­cour­ag­ing sell­ers to take a mul­ti­a­gency ap­proach.

He says the el­e­ment of competition spurs each agent on to do their best and clinch the sale. Crit­ics will counter that they might just put in half the ef­fort and that it’s eas­ier to build a good re­la­tion­ship with one agent.

“There are cer­tain cases where you might be bet­ter off with a sole agency, maybe if you’re sell­ing a big York­shire stately home, but over­all two agents are bet­ter than one. They will com­pete to outshine each other and cre­ate more de­mand for your prop­erty,” says David, who of­ten refers to a strat­egy he picked up while on a ne­go­ti­at­ing course at Har­vard Univer­sity. He says ev­ery­one in the home buy­ing and sell­ing process should em­brace the con­cept of The Bal­cony. Al­though it sounds hippy-dippy, he swears by it

“Peo­ple let emo­tions get in the way. Step back from the ne­go­ti­at­ing process as if you were an out­side ob­server, imag­ine your­self look­ing down from a bal­cony for a clearer view of re­al­ity. It works. It’s like watch­ing a play and you can see the mis­takes the char­ac­ters are mak­ing. ”

One of the big­gest mis­takes is push­ing for a speedy ex­change of con­tracts. “If ven­dors push too hard they cause an­noy­ance or scare buy­ers off com­pletely. In gen­eral, you are bet­ter leav­ing buy­ers to their own de­vices and you’ll find it will hap­pen.”

The main mis­take agents make is telling ven­dors what they want to hear and there­fore over­valu­ing, but if you think you can do bet­ter, then think again. DIY sales have failed to take off for good rea­son, not least be­cause in­di­vid­u­als haven’t got ac­cess to con­tact de­tails of prospec­tive buy­ers and one of the most ef­fec­tive ways to sell a prop­erty is to “hit the phones”. Over 90 per cent of prop­erty sales are still con­ducted through es­tate agents, though David has in­cluded a chap­ter on DIY sell­ing tips, which ends with these words: “Would I do it my­self? No way. Why would I want to sell my prized pos­ses­sion with­out the help of a pro­fes­sional?”

AD­VICE: David Pol­lock has used his 34 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in es­tate agency to write a book.

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