Estate agents

Knowing the pressures under which estates agents work – and what motivates them, will ensure a buyer’s agent gets the most out of them for you.

Unreal prices
According to the Times, “the current climate has seen disparities of as much as 40% between valuations… overvaluing is rife.”
Stiff competition for sellers tempts many estate agents to exaggerate valuations to win that instruction. A buyer’s agent will know his values and factors driving prices and advise accordingly.

Who is judging whom?
Why do some buyers appear to get preferential treatment? Estate agents grade buyers into a pecking order. When a buyer registers on their own they are not obliged to pay the estate agent for the privilege of being kept informed of new properties. However, if there were a charge, that agent would soon pinpoint who was serious about buying and who was a timewaster. Estate agents know that clients buying with a buyer’s agent have paid a deposit, thereby elevating them to the top of the pile.

Not-so innocent questions
The estate agent will ask certain questions that appear harmless on the surface. This is not idle conversation. For example, “for what purpose will you be buying this property?” is designed to inform the estate agent if there is the possibility of a second fee. “To do up and sell on” or “rent out” mean the possibility is there. The prospect of two quick fees will vastly outweigh the answer “well… because I want to live here with my wife for the rest of our lives.” The ‘right’ answer can be the wrong one.

The wasted journey
There can be nothing more frustrating than spending a whole day in traffic on the M4, only to find that the property the estate agent urged you to see was totally inappropriate. The failure of the agent to match your requirements may have more to do with the fact that they need to convince the seller to lower the asking price. They can only justify this with feet through the door and no offers to show for it. Buyer’s agents know how to avoid wasted journeys.

Bogus pressure
“if you don’t make an offer this morning, we have five more viewings booked in to see the house this afternoon.” Traipsing around a house with loads of other buyers can be depressing. However, many are just being nosey and some will not be in a position to buy. So while, on the face of it, these other punters represent competition, in fact, the majority will not. A buyer’s agent will determine this and alleviate false pressures.

Second fees
In whose interests do estate agents act? Their job is to maximize the price of a house they are selling. But this is not always the case. Some estate agencies will show properties to developers first and hold back perfectly good cash buyers. There are many reputable estate agencies but even they have drivers and getting a second fee can be one of them.