Contrary to popular belief

You’ve just decided to move house – what are you thinking now? I bet a good proportion of you are already grimacing at the idea of calling one or two of us. After all, we all know what the general perception of estate agents is. The media love us almost as much as bankers, tax dodgers and terrorists. As an industry, some don’t do the rest any favours either.

I was talking to a local radio researcher the other day and she said “well the market is booming so you lot must be making a fortune!”. She was a bit taken aback when I pointed out that this market is characterised by low stock and thus actually we’re having to work harder and longer for less commissions, especially when some agents are overvaluing or cutting fees just to get the instruction in the first place. Yes, properties are easier to sell and demand is huge but we don’t just open a door and then collect a cheque (I wish it was that easy!).

Before you decide whether you need us, how about thinking what we actually do for a living – not what you think we do or what you’ve been told we do but what we REALLY do all day 6 or 7 days a week. After all, unless you’ve sold a house before (not bought, because we work for the sellers not the buyers), you probably haven’t had much proper contact with an actual estate agent. Yes, you’ve browsed Rightmove, glanced through the local property paper or looked in a few windows but have you ever asked what service you’re likely to get for your hard earned cash?

You want to move – could you sell your house and save paying one of us? Absolutely – my dad has bought and sold his own properties for years (we don’t talk about it but he does ask my advice occasionally, just to rub it in!). There are sites like Sarah Beeny’s Tepilo which can showcase your house online. You can buy adverts in the local paper, put up your own for sale board, ask around at work and spread the word on social media – it all works and you might do very well. Of course, you’ll also have to organise and find time to conduct all the viewings, do the negotiation and co-ordinate the solicitors plus chase the sale through the interminable conveyancing process. There’s also the problem of not being able to access certain well known property websites as a private seller.

So, if you can do it yourself, why are the majority of owners still choosing to use an estate agent? I’ve read hundreds of articles on this subject, from lots of different angles but there is a simple answer – if you want something done properly, seek expert advice. I don’t deliver babies – my wife does that (and very well too!). I don’t design robots – my brother in law is a genius at that. If I want advice at gardening, I phone my exhibition garden owning mum. However, I have family members I haven’t spoken with in years but when they are selling or buying, guess who they call out of the blue?

I’m not saying we are all angels or experts but thats no different to any other industry. If you do your research and ask around, you’ll find the right advice. That advice may well in turn make or save you money. It’ll certainly save you a whole lot of time instead of doing it yourself.