Life is getting pretty frustrating for estate agents, and not just because getting houses onto the market is such an uphill struggle.
I think everyone involved in the sharp end of the selling process – buyers, vendors and estate agents – knows that the market is red hot and that most homes, almost any homes, are highly prized by frustrated buyers, in particular up to around £600,000 where I operate.
We haven’t quite got to the stage where we are seeing scenes like those dreadful scraps for widescreen televisions that we witnessed on the news the first time British supermarkets decided to hold Black Friday events.
Imagine if houses were portable and super-keen buyers were dragging them away from our offices as they fought each other? There would be rubble on every High Street!
Physically it’s not like that, metaphorically it’s getting more like it every day. Buyers are scrambling like mad to book viewings and then desperately outbidding each other when it comes to making offers on the dwindling stock most of us hold.
It’s not a flash in the pan distorting the market. But asking prices dropping by 10 per cent as a matter of tradition just isn’t happening anymore.
Guide price is no longer a euphemism for start your offers here and see how low you can get away with. Guide prices are now where we expect to start the negotiating process and they are very close to the end result, which is frequently slightly higher rather than slightly less.
The problem is that some valuers who had their fingers burned during the last price crash are busy looking back at historical values to see what’s happening in front of them.
In the last few weeks I’ve taken three instructions on the same road and every one of the properties achieved better than guide, not necessarily by much but then I pride myself on knowing where the right money should be.
When the mortgage application goes in, the surveyor comes out to “value” and when they pick up the keys you explain there were 14 viewings, seven offers, and guide price was exceeded by a respectable, sustainable margin.
The response is sometimes that they will have to do their research, look at the market, see what values are. But Zoopla or Rightmove data from three to six months ago doesn’t reflect the market now.
Today’s values are the real position and surveyors have to realise it or deals will start collapsing.
Frustrated buyers will have their mortgage applications rejected only to see their prize back on the market at the money they bid. Someone else will snap it up and the valuer will be able to see from 'history' that the house shows up in Zoopla bang on the money.
Will claims start falling at their feet for bad advice? I hope not. But they potentially could.
Much as I don’t want to see runaway, rampant house price inflation, another cycle of boom and bust, valuers should be prepared to make their judgements on today’s reality and not yesterday’s history.
Otherwise the buyers will certainly be boiling – with anger – even if the market isn’t.
*Colin Shairp is Director of Fine and Country Southern Hampshire