Tue 21 Jun 2016
WHY 95% OF HOME-OWNERS STILL USE TRADITIONAL ESTATE AGENTS
The broadcast media is awash with new online estate agents who claim to sell your house for a fraction of the costs. Calculations of the potential savings are being distributed with abandon. The current statistics show that over 95% of home owners still use the tried and tested estate agency model. So are the new kids on the block just starting to attract smarter consumers, or is the enticement of a potentially cheaper fee covering over potholes that carry potentially serious consequences for the vendor?
Putting aside that almost all estate agents are already online, and that in many parts of the country the so-called modern, efficient models can actually cost more than the existing competition; Max Sowerby, Managing Director of Sowerbys, explores some of the more important aspects of the debate. But who will deliver the best result for the seller?
The first, crucial point is motivation. With a physical estate agent, you only pay a fee when they successfully sell your property; and the agent will usually earn more commission for achieving a higher price. Therefore, there is a mutual interest in securing the best possible result. With many of the new models, you pay a significant, up-front, non-refundable amount whatever happens – for example, even if you never receive a single offer on your home.
Secondly, selling a property is much more than just putting it on the internet. Markets are constantly changing, and a good agent will constantly evaluate the price and marketing, based on the latest conditions. This might include the mood of the market and what is available locally. The best estate agent will utilise a wide variety of personalised tools, such as contacting their extensive database, distributing leaflets, communicating via social networking, and facilitating ‘open house’ events. These elements can be crucial in generating the best offer. Yet very few, if any, of the new online estate agents to date offer such services to their clients.
The next key stage in selling your home is qualifying the offer. Almost a third of agreed sales fail to complete, and one key reason is that the buyer may struggle to access the necessary finance. A local professional agent will have established the motivations and financial status of the applicant, thereby reducing the likelihood of disappointment and further delays and, therefore, also of losing other potential buyers who would have completed the purchase.
Negotiating the sale of your own home can be a tricky business. This is an important and emotive subject, and normally the intercession of a professional can turn an ‘insulting offer’ into an acceptable compromise. Again, you need the help of someone who can use local knowledge and experience, together with insights into the relative situations and of the parties involved, to craft a mutually acceptable position.
Currently, one of the biggest difficulties in moving is managing complicated chains, which require the involvement and sometimes coercion of many separate parties, such as other estate agents and their solicitors. Many leading agents now assign their most talented employees to progressing pending sales, even on behalf of the other agents in the chain who may not be so diligent. This can literally make or break a sale and again, it makes sense to seek out an estate agent who knows all the parties involved - and who is strongly financially motivated to complete the sale as quickly and efficiently as possible, not just move on to the next listing.
Selling and renting property has become increasingly regulated, and trust and confidence flows from dealing with an individual who can offer expert and appropriate advice. The best local agents will employ staff who have proven expertise and who have achieved recognised qualifications in their particular specialisms. They are, therefore, better able to manage the myriad of problems that normally accompany any potential sale or purchase – increasing the likelihood of success. Some of the newer models employ so-called local experts who are in truth, neither of the two, and so may fall short on offering the help when you most need it. A local expert could advise confidently on local schools and catchment areas, dentists and hospitals, commuting times, potential new developments in the area, or seasonal factors such as tourism and special events.
When it comes to the move, there are many other services that the purchaser or investor may require; the more obvious are a solicitor, a removals company, and maybe a mortgage provider, but you may also want specialist tax advice, the name of a trustworthy builder, plumber of electrician, gardener, or interior designer…or just a key holding service and a locksmith! The best agents will know local professionals who are proven and trustworthy. Their business is to a large part dependent on their local reputation, and so will have built up a network of similar experts who can work together to help their clients.
Many local agents will also be part of a national network such as the Guild of Professional Estate Agents, offering joint marketing for your property across up to a thousand other similar offices. Almost 10% of buyers come from outside the area, and agents will have established this as part of their conversations and can, therefore, put together purchasers and sellers who otherwise may not have connected.
Marcus Whewell, CEO of The Guild of Professional Estate Agents believes that the true points of difference are not technology or enticements of low fees, but a proven network of local professionals who are connected into their local communities, and are financially committed to successfully selling your property. He says: “You won’t find this on the TV adverts, but the really smart money will look for strong personal commitment, experience and expertise, great levels of service, and consistent positive outcomes for clients”.
Max Sowerby says, ‘Cliqued as it sounds, providing a truly honest and transparent service has always been the most important part of running Sowerbys. Our focus is always on marketing every property to the widest audience to secure the best possible price and then ensuring that we manage the sale successfully through to completion.
In our experience there is no saving in instructing a cheap online agent who charges an upfront fee to sell your home. There is no incentive for them to achieve the best price. We also find purchasers who use an ‘online only’ service expect vendors to pass on or share this perceived saving. You are therefore left to negotiate yourself and have to deal with your solicitor on your own, cope with all the hassle and manage the hoops to jump through yourselves.
To save money by achieving the best possible price and not have all the hassle, please choose an independent agent so you can relax and let us do all the hard work and worrying’.
Established in 1993, The Guild has since grown to a network of approximately 800 members, who all adhere to the same strict Code of Conduct.
"I just wanted to say that we have recently purchased a house via Sowerbys and wanted to comment on the excellent customer service received from Alison Carter. Alison was extremely accommodating from day one; as we live in Hertfordshire and wanted to make only one day trip to view a number of houses initially. After the initial offer was accepted Alison went above and beyond to make sure that exchange happened, liaising between the Vendors, Vendors Solicitors and ourselves. As with all these things something always goes wrong but because of her involvement we believe it was as pain free as possible. Once completion had taken place she helped with meter readings and our keys and an interior designer we have arranged. I know Estate Agents often get bad press and often good news or praise is overlooked or not given so I wanted to say how much we appreciate all Alisonâ€™s efforts."