Why it should be a season of goodwill towards estate agents
SO, we have all survived the awful weather in January and last Monday was, apparently, the most likely day of the year for absenteeism for those with New Year blues. That means we can now look towards the brighter days of spring and count down to the longest day of the year, which is only 133 days away.
If you are reading this column, there is a strong likelihood you will have more than a passing interest in property and I am pleased to tell you that, like many agents in Yorkshire, we have had a productive start to 2014. I’d also like to see it as the season of goodwill towards estate agents.
Whether you are a buyer or a seller, a solicitor or surveyor, builder or agent, it is in our collective interest to have a healthy and active residential property market in Yorkshire.
I am pleased to say that the practical reality of 2014 thus far, is that buyers and sellers, as the main protagonists, are being sensible.
Buyers are prepared to pay good prices for the right property and where owners are slightly struggling to sell, they are being proactive and adjusting their pricing.
The result of this approach is an increasingly active marketplace.
So why the need for goodwill towards estate agents, especially when some members of the public still question the worthiness of our profession?
Well, I would contend that estate agents are the “ringmasters to the circus” and, more often than not, the glue that holds the whole process together, particularly when there is such a wide diversity of interests involved with any single property transaction.
This is particularly relevant when the individuals involved do not always seem to have the same objectives in mind. Perhaps a few examples would be helpful here.
At the start of the process, potential buyers undertake viewings with proud owners spending time preparing for the event. If you view, it is not unreasonable to provide the agent with feedback, even if you did not like what you saw. An inability to respond to follow up calls will hardly endear you to the selling agent, especially if it turns out that the next house you look at through them is one that you really like.
If you are selling and have say five viewings in the first week, it does not necessarily mean that the price is wrong and that you are suddenly going to sell your home for a lot more by waiting four weeks. You might wish to heed the old estate agents adage that “early interest is often best interest”.
As a buyer, once you have agreed terms then you’ll want to have a survey to check there is nothing untoward. If there is an inherent problem, it may come to light at this stage.
Do remember a survey can be a question of interpretation and not simply a tool for renegotiation. An agent, and indeed an owner, is not being unreasonable in questioning whether a bit of peeling paintwork and soft timber really is a material problem in an Edwardian house that is over 100 years old. And then there is the question of “the paperwork”. Yes, lenders are being more stringent. Yes there is a need for searches to be obtained from the local authority and, understandably, there is the requirement for due diligence on the part of the legal advisors. Whilst this does all take time, there is no mystique to the process. It is a question of ensuring all those involved realise that time is of the essence to satisfy the expectations of both buyers and sellers alike.
And where does this leave the estate agent? Keen and willing to ensure all concerned work together for mutual benefit. That can mean gentle persuasion and plenty of phone calls and emails.
Unfortunately some in the process seem to think at times we are just being annoying.