Yorkshire Post - Property

Whywemustn­ow weed out the worst of our estate agents

- Edward Hartshorne Edward Hartshorne is MD of Blenkin and Co., www.blenkinand­co.com

WE all know the type of estate agents we love to hate. Their cavalier and obnoxious attitudes have fuelled many horror stories, and I've seen the knock-on impact of underhand tactics used by the clueless blaggers who make up a handful of the sector.

Under a third of people believe estate agents are truthful, according to the latest Ipsos Veracity Index and puts agents fourth from bottom, ranking somewhere between politician­s and bankers. Current rules mean property transactio­ns are controlled by Whitehall to guard against money laundering but agents can trade without regulation, leaving anyone free to start a business selling and letting properties.

For most of us, our home is an expensive and prized possession so it's absurd the sale may become entrusted to an agent within the minority group I refer to as the 'crooks and charlatans'.

This is a slapdash bunch who throw properties on the online conveyor belt without any considerat­ion for what the owner actually wants.

Recently, I met a couple who had received just two viewings after marketing their house eight months ago using a large agent. After querying this, the agent claimed it would sell once a buyer came along, a true example of the job being done badly or not being done at all.

It is very disappoint­ing because this arrogance and laziness erodes a person's trust for the entire industry, though it us likely their agent was beholden to aggressive targets set by a head office but as an independen­t agent, Blenkin & Co is free from these shackles.

As a small business owner, it's pointless for me to win an instructio­n then sit on my laurels because I don't get paid unless the property sells, so we are hungry for business and have a fantastic team in place to meet our clients' high expectatio­ns.

My advice when choosing an agent is decide who you have a rapport with and can work alongside. Look for a trusted advisor because many agents fail to explain what they do and how they work, causing stress for sellers. The buying and selling processes can be overwhelmi­ng and agents must deconstruc­t the complexiti­es.

The best agencies are always looking to enhance their offering and one example from Blenkin & Co is a private sales section (password encrypted) on our website. To view these homes, unavailabl­e on the portals, buyers must provide proof of funds to our broker.

This service ensures our vendors find the best match in terms of a buyer and vice versa. We have also launched a lettings service so the firm is expanding but without corners being cut.

A further litmus test of agencies are returning customers and I'm proud to have worked with some of mine for over 15 years. While gratifying, it has been achieved with hard work, underpinne­d by hauling complex deals over the line.

A good agent plays multiple roles – tough negotiator, confidante, marketer and more but however skilled, they cannot please everyone all the time. We are the middlemen who become the punch bag upon delivery of bad news.

I think every reputable agent agrees the most effective way to weed out the uncommitte­d and unmotivate­d is to have mandatory qualificat­ions to ensure the gaps within our unregulate­d market cannot be exploited by the shameless few.

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