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Written by rosalind renshaw

Estate agents are selling property at the rate of just one home a week, says the RICS.

The institution’s new report, out this morning, says that the number of sales per estate agency member has slipped to an average of 14 in the three months to the end of August – taking transaction levels to a 26-month low.

The RICS asked its members why they felt sales levels are so low.

The most commonly cited reason was general economic uncertainty (79%). In addition, nearly three-quarters of surveyors (70%) felt a lack of mortgage finance was impacting negatively on transactions, and 40% felt that fear of price falls was keeping buyers and sellers out of the market.

New buyer inquiries also fell back in August, and surveyors reported that house prices dipped during the month, other than in London.

The majority also expected house prices to fall further.  
RICS housing spokesperson Alan Collett said: “For the time being, our indicators suggest that demand for homes remains broadly steady, albeit at relatively low levels, despite the renewed bout of economic gloom.

“However, the risk is that the worsening economic picture will gradually begin to have a more material impact on sentiment and discourage potential house purchasers even where mortgage finance is available.”

Agent Tim Brown, of George F White in Bedale, North Yorkshire, said: “Property must be priced realistically if it is going to sell this year or in the future. The sooner vendors come to terms with this the better. Too many agents continue to set unrealistically optimistic guide prices in order to gain instructions, but are doing their clients no favours by doing so.”

Another agent, Simon Hickling, of Maxey & Son in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, said: “Mortgages are still very difficult to obtain, leading to a lack of first-time buyers: we have not had one for over 12 months.”

A separate report from the Home website paints a picture of a lucklustre housing market going into autumn, with asking prices falling back slightly and houses typically taking 120 days to sell – 15 days longer than last September.

The site, which lists properties taken from virtually all the property portals and websites in the UK, warned of slides in property prices, trapping more people in negative equity.

It said: “The consequences for the UK property market are that fewer and fewer properties will change hands.

“Even those people who must move through work, divorce or a growing family will choose to rent out their property rather than accept the financial loss required to make a sale.”


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    "...the number of sales per estate agency member has slipped to an average of 14 in the three months to the end of August – taking transaction levels to a 26-month low."

    Hmmm... not really. Allow me to do a 'reloaded' on this piece:

    "SOME Estate agents are CONTINUING TO SELL property at the rate of just one home a week, says the RICS.

    The institution’s new report, out this morning, says that the number of sales per estate agency member WHO COULD BE @R$ED TO FILL IN THE FORM has slipped BY ZERO POINT TWO UNITS to an average of 14 in the three months to the end of August – taking transaction levels to a 26-month low (ALTHOUGH THAT IS JUST A REPEAT OF LAST MONTH'S SHOCK HEADLINE TO ATTRACT MEDIA FRENZY...)."

    So - there we have it. The main players in the industry speak. OR DO THEY...:

    The RICS have over 83,000 Members in England and Wales (the areas that the figures relate to, apparently...). Obviously not all are Chartered Surveyors who are principles etc of Estate Agencies - but only 271 of those responded to the survey request. Those 271 accommodating individuals reported the business of 410 branches. What's that - 3% maybe of the total number of EA branches in the UK??

    Anyway - the 0.2 fall in numbers of sales PER BRANCH over a THREE MONTH PERIOD that they are getting their knickers in a knot over equates to a whopping drop of EIGHTY TWO properties in TWO COUNTRIES!!

    Except - it is NOT the same people that report every time. In July, only 250 Members filled in the questionnaire - but they were responsible for 405 branches. Could it be that THEIR branches were simply better at the job in hand??

    Or is it a case of "Oh, my God! The 'crash' is happening!!! The RICS say so..."

    My guess is that HPCers favour the latter answer. After all - the statistics are favourable to the cause as long as someone like me doesn't dissect them...

    Non-RICS Estate Agents will state that Surveyors simply don't know how to sell houses (I am firmly on the fence on that thorny subject...)

    The RICS will, of course, be unavailable to comment pending checking their with their PII Lawyers... ;o)

    • 16 September 2011 14:33 PM
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    OK I just read through some other articles and comments and can see I probably took your comments to Rantnrave out of context so I apologise about that.

    I still think I made some valid points though, if not about you then certainly some others within your profession.

    I quite like the moniker you provoked though so might keep that, thanks!

    • 15 September 2011 16:28 PM
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    Wouldn't you prefer that your Vendors...

    a) had viewings but no offers?
    rather than...
    b) had no viewings in the first place?

    Which one would your Vendors give you more hassle about?

    • 15 September 2011 15:36 PM
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    "Although it is tough out there and educating selling clients to market their properties at the right money is a skill (that happily for those of us that can do it) a minority of agents posses." Many would agree with this....perhaps this is the key to success...well done

    • 15 September 2011 15:22 PM
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    If you exchanged five contracts this week, does that mean four other EAs haven't exchanged any?

    I would put an irony type smiley here, but at the end of the day this is about people's jobs being on the line.

    (well done though!)

    • 15 September 2011 15:10 PM
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    @FBA - Your attitude towards buyers seemed pretty clear to me when you told Rantrave you think he's insignificant. Now of course you roll out the red carpet? It's easy to make claims on the internet but your first response speaks volumes.

    Also for the record - as a very serious and committed buyer I don't expect red carpet treatment, nor do I expect to be treated like a financial illiterate because I'm not prepared to commit the next 20-25 years of my working life to paying for a mistake in an inflated market. I expect to be treated as a human being negotiating a life changing transaction.

    When I see value on a suitable home for my family I will buy, the agents I deal with know this and don't waste my time with kite flyers. Likewise I don't waste their time viewing houses that aren't suitable.

    I couldn't think of anything worse than spending my evenings and weekend looking at houses I didn't want to buy.

    Finally, considering every agent seemingly screams blue murder at being tarred with the 'shiny suit, gelled hair amateur' brush some on here seem very quick to label those with a differing view as time wasters or HPC nutters. Does the irony of that escape you?

    • 15 September 2011 15:02 PM
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    Ah, the good old RICS report, and may I say fashionably late for EAT as it was on the Beeb a day earlier.

    Right, I wont do all the silly comments about your typical RICS chaps being mainly stuffy old goats that have the drive and energy of a 3 minute old fart and all the stuff I have said before but ill try and stay factual and not get silly about it, although im sort of directing this at the HPC boys, so it may kick off later I don’t know

    So, the survey is taken from about 256 ish RICS guys that sell / have a residential part to their practice, the points here are they are a fraction of the market so before some of you start / carry on getting in a lather about all EA’s going pop it’s a bit like asking 250 owners of independent corner shops in the UK to comment on business levels for the UK grocery market and second up, (and I have gone on about this before) there is a property boom going on at the moment and to a large degree its because of our HPC mates, it’s the lettings market (thank you people, nice regular income, we like it)

    Although it is tough out there and educating selling clients to market their properties at the right money is a skill (that happily for those of us that can do it) a minority of agents posses.

    In short for the sensible amongst you it’s not really a representation of life in an EA business and for the bonkers ‘all agents are scum’ amongst you put them away and do your flies up, we aren’t all going bust.


    P.s – My chaps and chapettes here have exchanged contracts on 4 sales this week and god willing another deal we have will be done and dusted by beer o’clock tomorrow making a 5 for the week and about £25,000 invoicing – splendid.

    • 15 September 2011 15:01 PM
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    So how about smart looking buyers who ask all the right questions, put an offer in on a place and later casually mention that they haven't actually sold their (vastly overvalued) house yet. Are they not timewasters?

    • 15 September 2011 14:07 PM
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    Fun Boy- spot on, quality post from someone who actually knows what he is talking about. Thanks.

    • 15 September 2011 13:50 PM
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    No If one agent valued considerably higher than the other 2 I would ask myself, Why was it valued far higher than the other assume it was to get the instruction and then talk me down to a market price. Thus wasting my time in the same way the non buyers do!

    • 15 September 2011 13:50 PM
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    Yeh, agree with fun boy agent, you aren't first time buyers at all, you are complete time wasters. If you don't plan on buying a house great, but don't be suprised when estate agents don't talk to you nicely when it is clear that you have nothing better to do but waste our vendor's time. It's sad really.

    I guarantee that any of you posters blaming high prices on estate agents had three valuations and one was considerable higher than the others, you would choose that one.

    • 15 September 2011 13:44 PM
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    For clarity,

    I roll out the red carpet for buyers, I'm pretty good at it.

    I'm also pretty good at sniffing out people who call themselves buyers but in fact are not buyers at all and are merely browsers. These people won't earn me a penny and won't achieve a sale for my customers too.

    My poor vendor might spend an entire morning buffing and cleaning their house for the viewing only for an eternal looker to coldly walk in, sniff and huff their way around the house and leave after less than 7 minutes.

    This will be followed by non productive "stupidity" feedback like "wrong location" (it was on the map), "3rd bedroom to small" (we provided a floorplan), "not south facing garden" (we provided a map), "needs too much work" (we never said it was new), "I didn't like the kitchen" (we provided photos),, and so on.

    As I said, I treat buyer like royalty, but I also take bets on browsers who will not buy anything from anyone within 6 weeks of darkening our door. I have not had to eat one hat so far this year.

    You make me laugh. Attitude my foot.

    • 15 September 2011 13:30 PM
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    As a HPC nutter I am very sorry they are selling any. Let the market crash so I can keep paying my rent at higher levels are there no house to rent! I am really am a nutter.

    • 15 September 2011 12:46 PM
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    Again, probably but I think you're also missing a point - if an agent is arrogant enough to think that FTBs are insignificant what's the likelihood of them setting a realistic enough price? The fact that each agent on average sold only one property per week means some sold none, this for me highlights the fact that some agents need to adapt to a changed market and losing a bad attitude towards buyers (seeing them as a cash cow) is key to that.

    I can see this change in my local market - one agent who has been around a long time and used to be as bullish as the rest has over recent months been marketing good homes at realistic prices. Needless to say these are selling in days while the 'young guns' continue to overinflate asking prices and properties languish on their books before moving to other agents or being removed from the market altogether.

    One good example near me is two very similar houses came on this week with the above realistic agent and one of the young guns. Price difference? 100k. I expect the cheaper one will be sold by next week while the other is still on the books at christmas.

    I know which agent I'd buy through and the longer the unrealistic ones take to realise what's going on the more credibility they lose.

    • 15 September 2011 09:49 AM
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    @Insignificant buyer

    You both miss the main point so I will repeat it with emphasis:;

    ".....If ANY agent had the property you WANTED at the RIGHT PRICE FOR YOU....."

    • 15 September 2011 08:53 AM
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    @ Ray mondo on 2011-09-14 13:39:00

    That's the attitude: 'buy from us 'cos you've got no choice'!

    A sterling example of a) Why EAs are so despised and b) Why demonstrable intelligence or competence are not required to be one.

    • 14 September 2011 22:11 PM
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    @Ray mondo

    "If ANY agent had the property you wanted at the right price for you - you WOULD but it through them. Fact of life."

    Maybe, maybe not. I certainly wouldn't cut off my nose to spite my face, but the chances of an agent with that kind of attitude actually marketing something at close to what I think is reasonable or viewing me as a reliable buyer are pretty slim I'd say.

    It's more likely the vendor would decide the agent is an idiot and list with another agent and I'd buy through them (which I did in the 90s with my first house) or I'd just find another house. We've been looking long enough to know that there's lots of houses to choose from if you wait long enough.

    I think that too many agents are too used to a rising market and don't know how to deal with the situation now.

    • 14 September 2011 17:06 PM
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    Blame rightmove, if they didn't let agents put property on their web at the wrong price, it would all sell at lower prices, agents would get lower fees and the HPC crew would be knackered as their pointless post would have to go elsewhere, perhaps a kids blog, see all rightmoves fault, everything, blah blah, sill post, like most.

    • 14 September 2011 16:22 PM
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    In 1973 I set up mu own firm, mainly because of the poor service offered by most RICS members who dealt in sales and for whom I initially worked.
    So, of all the agents dealing in sales I wonder what is the percentage of firms owned and controlled by their members now? Interesting.

    • 14 September 2011 13:45 PM
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    • 14 September 2011 13:40 PM
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    @Insignificant buyer

    If ANY agent had the property you wanted at the right price for you - you WOULD but it through them. Fact of life.

    • 14 September 2011 13:39 PM
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    I heard Danny Blanchflower former member of the MPC quoting that maintaining house prices must be a priority but surely getting volumes moving is more important.

    I am interested to find out what else are the important issues?

    FBA - should the industry seek opinion from the outside as well as internally?

    • 14 September 2011 13:15 PM
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    @Fun Boy Agent

    I take it you're one of the ones that sold less than one per week then? With that attitude I'm not surprised.

    Fortunately most of the agents I deal with in my seemingly endless search for a reasonably priced roof to put over my family's heads don't share your views. If they did I wouldn't buy through them.

    Wake up and smell the coffee.

    • 14 September 2011 13:10 PM
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    One per week? Ouch. Barely enough to rent the office and pay rightmove their pound of flesh. If you want to sell more houses simply stop over-pricing them. Minimal demand at current inflated level. Cheers.

    • 14 September 2011 11:31 AM
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    @ Fun Boy Agent

    Out of interest, what do you think are the big issues facing the industry currently?

    • 14 September 2011 10:44 AM
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    Is that how potential FTBs are welcomed into EA offices these days?

    • 14 September 2011 09:56 AM
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    Well done Rantrave, now run along and do your moaning elsewhere, go find people who might give a sh*t about you and your and your savings account. Estate Agents wont care one single little jot about you.

    Our industry faces some big issues at present.. And you are insignificant. You dont get that! do you.

    We come here for industry opinion, not your opinion about your finances.

    Run along, there's a good boy.

    • 14 September 2011 09:51 AM
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    A level you'd never stoop to Ray...

    ; )

    • 14 September 2011 09:12 AM
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    Good morning!

    I notice that you are still picking out the part//s of reports that suit your own opinion..............;>)

    • 14 September 2011 08:43 AM
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    "40% felt that fear of price falls was keeping buyers and sellers out of the market"

    Second time buyers might fear price falls if it pushes them into neghative equity. It is the expectation and hope of price falls that is however keeping this potential FTBer out of the market. Had I been in the UK in the build up to 2007, then price RISES might have scared me enough to buy. Even if prices stabilise, I'm still adding to my deposit. Given the odd pay rise and interest I'm earning on my savings, house prices would need to be increasing at over 5% a year for a sustained period before I would reconsider my situation. In this current economic climate, I just don't see that happening... For FTBs, 'fear' has long since left their thoughts.

    • 14 September 2011 08:23 AM
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