When it comes to selling houses, leave it to the professionals
everything themselves, including valuation, marketing, viewings and negotiations. The idea was to cut out estate agents and therefore save on the fees.
“A great idea”, I hear you cry but it met with the universal indignation of Lord Sugar and his lieutenants, who informed “Cloughie” that it was dead in the water.
So, why was this idea so bad? To answer that question, let’s consider the role of the estate agent in selling a property.
Agents have a huge breadth of knowledge of house values in an area. True, anyone can look up house values on Rightmove but this may not be the price that was finally achieved, which could be less or more than the offered price. It is important to pitch the valuation just right; too high will put people off and too low is likely to leave money on the table. You must also know when to adjust the price if interest in the property is low and it does not sell. There are huge vagaries between one house and another, making valuation a science not an art.
Agents invest heavily in and use a range of marketing tools to sell a property, including producing particulars, brochures, agent’s website, subscribing to property portals like Rightmove, advertising in newspapers and magazines as well as PR. In producing marketing literature we photograph the property, we measure each room and all outside space and we write the details about the property. We also have an extensive database of prospective purchasers, whom we know only want a specific property, area or street, thereby a home can be sold “off-market” without sometimes ever being marketed.
At first glance this maybe something that anyone can do but when one thinks about it are you, the vendor always available? Will you be there when the prospective purchaser can view your property? After all you may both have work or other commitments. Would you collect prospective viewers and drive them to your property? Would you be able to advise them on ideas for improvements? Would you have thought about an “open day” and be able to organise one. There is more to viewings than meets the eye and that’s without the agent advising the vendor on the finer points that would make their property more saleable.
The sharp end of any sale and the time for a cool head and wise words. Not easy when someone is emotively involved with selling their own home, a property you may have had for many years and may naturally have a strong attachment too. It would be all too easy for stubbornness and a lack of clarity to cloud a seller’s judgement at this stage. In the same way as a solicitor may take the heat or emotion out of adversarial proceedings, so an estate agent is removed from the emotion and is able to stay calm and think clearly in a potentially taxing situation. The agent also sees the sale through to completion, a time when difficulties can occur.
So apart from the knowledge and experience that an estate agent brings, they more importantly also relieve the vendor of the stresses and strains of dealing with the sale. They may even suggest different methods of sale such as tenders, best bids or even auction to get the best pric. The role of the estate agent is therefore more involved than many would think. So use a seasoned professional and not an apprentice.
Richard Smailes is a director of Feather Smailes Scales, Harrogate.