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Naivety is a becoming a real headache

The property market is racing ahead, but not everyone who wants to be part of it appears to want to keep up.

We recently put a house on the market at £220,000 through my other agency – there were 14 viewings, six offers, and a price achieved in excess of guide.

Then we got a phone call from a disgruntled potential purchaser who complained that we would not accept her offer of £200,000, which is what she thought the house was worth.

She pointed out that six months before, a similar house in the next street had sold for less than £200,000 and therefore her offer should be perfectly acceptable. 

The fact that six people had made offers, most above the guide price, failed to convince her that the market had moved on and values had climbed by a significant amount.

I invited her to make a higher offer but she refused. Another house would come along at the price she wanted to pay, she said, although she lamented she had just missed another because the owners “wanted too much”.

There was no convincing the lady that waiting was not a suitable solution. It’s a bit like entering a 100 metre sprint race and deciding that every other participant is wrong for not regarding it as a walking race instead so you can keep up. 

I fear that by the time she wakes up to reality, £240,000 will be nearer the mark for the house she wants.

Mind you, and I touched on this last month, some professionals can’t help themselves when presented with evidence of current values.

We had a surveyor call in to collect the keys to a house which had met the asking price of £185,000, not an astronomical amount even in the depressed Portsmouth property market.

The surveyor could not be convinced that the house was worth the money. “Show me the evidence” was the demand. 

The evidence was in the number of competing offers at or around the value he was being asked to confirm – a true reflection of what the house was now able to achieve and which would actually have gone up by a few thousand by the time the mortgage money eventually arrived with the vendor.

It really was like flogging a dead horse – but the house is sold, so it wasn’t like flogging a dead house! 

There may be a ready market, and people may be convinced that we do little to earn our fee, but the behind the scenes activity to keep all the balls in the air (and mine off the block if it all falls apart) easily justifies the money.

My previous column drew this comment from a surveyor (quoted exactly as it was published): “If Mr Shairp is willing to compensate the surveyor out of his pocket when the surveyor is sued in a few years time then I am sure he will get more agreeable values. If he isn't then he needs to give more respect to the surveyors judgement”.

It completely missed the point – that surveyors frequently only use their judgement in deciding whether to research Rightmove or Zoopla for old values, which they then treat as current. 
They need to be more robust in their “judgements” and catch up with the market. 

Instead, many just rely on asking rival agents what they think, the very people who want your sale to fail so they can take on the property themselves. 

Is it any wonder the public struggle to keep up when some parts of the trade are so blinkered?

*Colin Shairp is Director of Fine and Country Southern Hampshire

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