Yet, even though this fact highlights the point that clearly some agents can get a higher price for a property than others, most of the public (especially first-timers) sleep-walk into the same mistake when choosing an agent every time; assuming that their property will achieve the same price no matter which agent they choose.
It’s an unconscious assumption rather than a deliberate one, but it is possibly the biggest mistake to make before selecting your agent, because having made that assumption, the selection then only becomes about low fees, and completely misses the point of using an agent at all.
Today, hardly anybody sells privately. That 5 -10% market segment who used to place an advert in a property supplement on a Sunday hoping to find a buyer has disappeared. Today’s equivalent are the people who are paying money up front to online-only companies who purport to ‘sell’ or ‘help sell’ or let your home. At best, it’s an incredibly naive thing to do, and at worst it can lead to disastrous financial and personal scenarios.
With the exception of experienced professionals who have been in the industry a long time themselves, no private individual is likely to achieve the same price for their home nor know how to avoid the many pitfalls for getting a sale or let completed compared with someone who does it for a living.
It’s a bit like the loss of sanity people experience when falling in love. When selling homes, it is too easy and tempting to believe that getting viewings, finding a buyer, getting them to pay the top price, nailing the legals and council searches and managing people in the chain is such a doddle that anyone who pays a professional to do this must have more money than sense and/or be incompetent.
Yet the opposite is true.
Unless they are new-builds, even two identical terraced houses in the same street will be different inside, worth different amounts, appeal to different kinds of buyers and require different strategies to sell. In other words, they need someone who does it for a living to have a chance of getting the best outcome.
The other major consideration which is overlooked by the public is how difficult it is to actually get a sale or let completed, even after accepting an offer. The industry widely accepts that around 1 in 3 agreed sales falls through.
So, if you’re selling, even if you find a buyer who makes an offer that you accept, there’s a one in three chance that after all the time effort and expense necessary to get to that point, your deal will fall through and you will be worse off than back to square one.
The same question applies: when selling or letting your home, do you believe that your chances of achieving a completed transaction are the same regardless of which agent you choose?
There is a reason why 90% of the British public still choose to instruct an estate agent: many of them have experienced first-hand just how hard it is to sell successfully, for the best price in the shortest time, and know just how valuable it is when you find an agent that you can trust to take the stress away and get it done.
Not all agents are equal, and not all the best agents are the right choice for every seller or landlord. But for every home that needs to be sold or let, there is a local agent who has been there a while, who knows the patch, who has a reputation to uphold and a living to make, and who will risk their time, reputation and money for nothing in getting you the best deal, and who only earn their crust when you’ve got what you went to them for.
How many other industries are there who will work for you on a success-only fee basis? It’s the best deal ever considering what’s at stake for the public when they need to move home.
*Charlie Wright is CEO of The Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents