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By Graham Norwood

Editor, EAT, LAT & LLT

Graham Awards

OTHER FEATURES

Call My Agent! Celebrities find it’s not so easy to sell and buy homes…

One of the biggest TV hits of lockdown has been the Netflix show Call My Agent!

It’s a surprise success, perhaps, because it deals with the rarified world of celebrity agents working to get the gigs, shows and films for their famous clients.

It has witty cameos by a string of European movie stars likely to be unknown in the UK, and it’s all fun French to boot. But all four series have become must-watch TV for many in this country during these strange stay-at-home times.

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The storyline beneath the comedy is that all we see on screen isn’t necessarily what the individuals are like in real life - they have problems, childcare, tantrums and difficult relationships just like the rest of us. And they don’t always get things right, at least first time.

Although it’s not commonly known, the same can be said for many celebrities who have made a name for themselves through TV property shows too. Most of our tele-experts have found that it’s easier to offer opinions than to actually get things right on the ground.

That’s not a criticism: we learn from mistakes and emerge from tough times as better people and with more experience than we had at the start. We’re probably all learning that from the past year of Coronavirus. So here’s a list of those who offer celebrity advice … and have perhaps learned their own lessons the hard way.

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Phil Spencer: While making a name for himself on Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location, Phil was the man behind the original Garrington Home Finders buying agency back in 1996.

But it hit trouble during the global financial crisis and despite celebrity clients - said to include Kylie Minogue, Ricky Gervais, Claudia Schiffer and Keira Knightley - the agency went bust in 2009.

He’s admitted since that he wouldn’t set up another agency - “it’s too scary” - but few would disagree that he uses his own experience well, as background to the advice he gives to agents each month in his Estate Agent Today column, and advice to the public through his Move iQ service and TV appearances.

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Sarah Beeny: Mystery still surrounds exactly what happened with Tepilo, the online agency set up by the Property Ladder star back in 2009. It was taken over by Northern and Shell in 2017, was then sold to the ‘old’ Emoov management in 2018 and disappeared at the end of that year - along with Emoov itself, in a blaze of publicity and controversy.

Beeny still regards Tepilo as a success: she says on her website today that the operation was known for “saving customers millions of pounds in fees and disrupting the industry.”

Although she had parted company with it well before its demise, her ambitious claims for how Tepilo and other online agencies would transform the industry were not met.

She recently told Angels Media CEO Nat Daniels, in a piece for Estate Agent Today, that she wouldn’t rule out creating an agency although doubted it would happen.

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Kevin McCloud: He has fronted Grand Designs since 1999 and in 22 years has offered more than a few opinions on the quality of work by volume house-builders. He stepped up to the plate and set up property development businesses under the title Happiness Architecture Beauty (HAB) between 2013 and 2017 - and then the problems started.

In recent years the not-so-grand headlines have come thick and fast, most recently in The Times which last month said 280 investors in a ’mini-bond’ created to fund his construction work face combined losses of up to £2.3 million. The failure hasn’t stopped Channel 4 using McCloud in successive series since the controversies began.

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The process works significantly better the other way round - estate agents by trade who turn themselves into TV stars.

Veteran prime central London agent Peter Wetherell, having already turned himself into a social media star via his @Mayfairguru Twitter account, did an accomplished job on BBC’s Modern Times in 2015, describing his working patch.

Lewis Rossiter, Gary Hersham and Jamie Lester - from all parts of the market - gave highly creditable performances on BBC Two’s Under Offer back in 2014.

More recently, UK Sotheby’s International Realty’s Guy Bradshaw made a name for himself at the head of the agency team in the Channel 4 show Selling Britain’s Most Expensive Homes.

It’s striking that agents who end up on TV appear more effective and successful than TV celebrities turning their hand to selling homes.

This suggests that when it comes to expert advice, it’s probably best to choose…well, an expert. And when it comes to selling or buying a home…Call An Agent!

*Editor of Estate Agent Today, Letting Agent Today and Landlord Today, Graham can be found tweeting about all things property at @PropertyJourn

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    "Beeny still regards Tepilo as a success: she says on her website today that the operation was known for “saving customers millions of pounds in fees and disrupting the industry.”

    Reactive portal selling by passive intermediaries or FSBO might have saved about 2.5 in 100 successful vendors about £2500 in agency fees but on the other hand 2.5 in 100 vendors got nothing at all for the £1000 they spent on a portal listing they could have bought elsewhere for £99

    Was the industry disrupted? disruption went from about 2% FSBO to a peak of 7.5%, its dropped back to 5% now. Average agency fees reduced from 1.4% to 1.2% during disruption but that's mainly down to too much competition in the market.

    The selling public now have enough experience of list it and leave it agency to understand that an average 5% undersell to save 1% agency fees is mad maths that costs them on average £12,000.

    FSBO will always have a place in the industry but to claim disruption was anything other than an investor subsidised group-think punt is a little self justifying.

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