Bite sized estate agency – episode 2

Episode 2 – (Estate agency strikes back) of our regular Bath Chronicle bite sized info columns on estate agency in Bath

Woollies, wellies and viewings

There are myths about successfully selling your property in the winter, including “people are too busy Christmas shopping to look at houses” or “the weather is bad which puts buyers off”. Yes, it is absolutely true that there are cycles of activity in the housing market and fewer buyers do look in the run up to Christmas but here’s the kicker – the buyers that are out there in the cold and wet are there because they are deadly serious.

Combine this with the current state of the market in Bath and there is an opportunity worth considering for potential sellers.

Over the last year, the Bath property market has been characterised by a major lack of supply. There are various reasons for this (which include not enough appropriate new property being built or the continued transfer of stock over to the private rental market) and the situation is not improving. Every day at present, we hear from buyers who have been looking for months with no success (or who have missed out repeatedly on homes due to competition). Of course, the problem becomes a really thorny one if you’re both a seller and a buyer.

There isn’t a magic solution. However, this time of the year does bring the opportunity for motivated sellers to be matched with a host of very serious buyers with little else to look at and that is always a very good start to the home selling equation.

In winter with warm tears I’ll melt the snow
And keep eternal spring-time on thy face

Shakespeare – Titus Andronicus

Estate agency

Playing the odds

One of the hallmarks of a good estate agency is how they manage sales between an offer being accepted and completion. No one likes to think their sale will fall through but, at least in England, the legal system does allow for this at any time before exchange of contracts. The important question is how often does it happen and what can be done by the agent to ameliorate this.

Checking via Zoopla for the year to date, the “top” score for a Bath estate agent is almost a 10% fall through rate on agreed sales. There are of course many reasons why a sale can fall through and some are unavoidable but it is interesting that the scores for estate agents locally range widely (lowest 0.54% and highest 9.78% with Madison Oakley currently at 3.8%).

Diligently checking buyers finances, obtaining adequate chain details, nudging along solicitors, agreeing timescales and maintaining consistent communication between everyone involved during a sale can all help to manage any issues that may arise. This part of the agents job is often unseen but can save all parties a lot of stress and inconvenience. Buyers and sellers choosing the right solicitors is also key and here, as with estate agents, you still do get what you pay for.

So, its worth thinking that SOLD STC doesn’t always translate to SOLD and maybe doing some homework on agents could make a big difference on your chances of a sale falling through.

Aerial view Pulteney Bridge

 Facts, not Spin

Estate agents seem to always be trying to create the perfect “line” to encapsulate their service and use in advertising or promotions. You’ll see examples of this everywhere in property supplements, agency websites and of course the inevitable leaflets through your door. It often involves being No1 at something or other, with a helpfully tailored set of “statistics” attached to back up the claim.

If I was making an attempt to showcase where we help clients, I might mention our partners decades of experience, our website coverage, our social media following or our newspaper advertising reach as I know each of these helps in the process to bring extra buyers to your door. However, that’s just us focussing on the issue from an “inside the business” point of view.

Yesterday, we received some feedback from an owner we’ve just sold for – he wrote us a public review on an independent feedback site we have a profile on. After reading the review he posted and one sentence in particular, I was reminded yet again that we as estate agents really shouldn’t be the ones to decide on what we’re good at – an actual customers opinion on the best aspects of our service is the only one that matters.

Yesterdays customer chose a different tack to highlight what was really important to them in a property transaction.  Our owner simply said we “made a traumatic experience an enjoyable one”.


George Street, Bath - Then and Now
George Street, Bath – Then and Now

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