Errr, what value is this agent adding, exactly…?
We’re busy house-hunting, and less than impressed with the service from some agents…
It’s May 2017 and we’re house hunting. An interesting property comes up, in the right spot, at the right sort of price.
But, for various reasons, just now we want a house that’s ready to move into and from the photos this house looks the opposite of that.
So I phone the agent to ask about the property’s condition. “Oh I’m not sure”, he says “I haven’t seen it as I’ve just been on holiday. But I’ll get someone to phone you back.”
Twenty-four hours later, nobody has called me, so I call again.
“Oh, sorry, I didn’t get that message but great timing,” he says brightly, “I’ve just come back from that house.”
“Terrific” I say. “So what sort of condition is the property in? The kitchen and carpets look quite old, for example. Can you tell me more?”
“Oh, I’m not sure, I wasn’t really paying attention to the carpets or kitchen…”
What exactly was he looking at, I ask? Incredibly he says, “oh I was more getting a feel for the place rather than looking at anything in particular.”!
His inevitable solution to the question is for us to go view the property and my family and I all troop round there and… surprise, surprise it’s in a poor condition and within 30 seconds we realise it’s not for us.
But I show interest, just to be polite and ask a few questions and this is where it gets worse, as he had not a single answer to any of my questions.
When was it converted from a Post Office?
How long have the owners been here?
Did the current owners convert it or was it done previously?
How old are the electrics/boiler/heating?
All greeted with varying alternatives of “I don’t know”.
I came away wondering what, besides having the key to the door, that agent contributed to our experience as buyers and, by association, the sellers’ experience of using a local agent instead of selling it themselves.
And that’s the point: in these days of growing competition from ‘for-sale-by-owner’ services, many estate agents will sleep-walk to their death if the level of service and expertise they offer does not rise to the challenge.
Agents who survive the next decade will be those who take better photos and do better descriptions than the owner can, who know at least as much about the property as the owner, know more about the market than the owner, have better access to buyers than the owner has, and can negotiate with buyers better than the owner can themselves.
Many owners can do a lot of this stuff pretty well and, thanks to Purple Bricks et al, have access to the market (ie Rightmove) that’s at least 90% as good as any agency.
Focus your attention on your service levels, friends, or beware…