The founder of a controversial service helping vendors find the ‘right’ estate agency and negotiating its fees says he has had ‘the low hundreds’ of clients in its first year - and expects more as the service becomes better known.
Agency Negotiation was set up in its present form about a year ago and has had a relatively low profile existence to date. Its founder - Chris Arnold, whose background includes working for a London agency - has told Estate Agent Today that it is still “early days” but that he is pleased with the progress it has made to date.
After being contacted by a vendor, the firm recommends three estate agents from the local area as being best suited to selling the type of property at its likely asking price.
The agents are selected on the basis of interviews by Agency Negotiation as well as analysis of their performance: there are no financial or other relationships which agents have with Agency Negotiation to ensure they are included on any shortlist.
The pitches made to the vendors by the shortlisted agents are then analysed by Agency Negotiation - which is not present at the appraisals - and fees charged by the instructed agent will be negotiated by the firm on behalf of the vendor.
The firm will also look at contracts - “particularly issues like withdrawal fees, tie-in periods and so on” says Arnold.
The seller then goes on to pay £250 to Agency Negotiation on the completion of the sale, with no payment to the agent. “I’m firmly on the side of the seller but I’m not against estate agents at all and recognise how good many of them are” says Arnold.
Chris Arnold says this process means his service is independent and offers more in-depth assessments of agencies, and their appropriateness to sell a vendor’s home, than that offered by review websites.
He says some 45 per cent of sellers choose the ‘wrong’ agent, either through lack of time or lack of knowledge of the market place, and says well under a third of owners succeed in reducing estate agencies’ commissions. He also says agents are become more motivated to secure a higher sale price to optimise any ‘negotiated’ - lower - commission.
“There have been quite a few estate agents who have resisted my involvement, not recognising any role for an intermediary of this type. But quite a few others do see a role for a service like this” says Arnold.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, he says most of his negotiations have been with independents rather than corporates, although his firm’s website - which includes large numbers of audio interviews with agents, often on this subject - does also include discussions with representatives of chains like Winkworth and Knight Frank.