Estate Agent or Psychologist?
Today, estate agency is all about psychology and perspective. Gone are the wideboy shiny suits, flash cars and sales-speak. Instead there is now more awareness about the mindset of buyers and sellers, which is a top priority. Unless both sides are happy, transactions do not go through.
From a seller’s viewpoint, one needs to be mindful that estate agents, solicitors and your eventual purchaser all have varying viewpoints and perspectives. Managing all these different requirements and ways of thinking to get a property to exchange requires a true understanding and, more importantly, experience as to where all parties are coming from. Understanding what they are trying to achieve and helping them to agree terms is what sets a great agent apart from the rest of the pack.
Let me elaborate. From a homeowner’s perspective, you get the agents out and are optimistic about how much your house should sell for. On the flip side of this are the estate agents, who themselves are under increasing pressure to perform in what remains a tough market. Some of the more unscrupulous ones will tap in to your optimism and add more to the guide price just to get your instruction. More often than not, this leads to issues down the line as the market will perceive you to be asking too much for your home. Housebuyers hate feeling that they are being fleeced, so you get no viewings, which means no offers and you are left collecting dust in the market. And all the while ‘big brother’ internet records how many days you remain without an answer, which in turn means the market will judge you by assuming there are hidden horrors in a house that doesn’t sell.
Anyone can put a brochure together and place it on Rightmove. The critical factor in selling or buying a home is how the property is portrayed, how offers are perceived, negotiated and handled going forward to exchange. Without this latter part, sales do not happen and people are let down.
Make sure you get an agent who through experience understands exactly how to portray a home in its absolutely best light. Excellent photographs are essential, but so too are how incoming enquiries are handled, and of course how viewings are conducted, which is an art in itself.
When it comes to the offer stage, homeowners sometimes feel disappointed that they did not achieve the guide price and think that they have lost money. This again this comes back to perspective. The key is to look at the entire transaction and what you want to go on to buy. If you have a cash buyer who’s keen to be in but is asking you to take a more realistic price, bear in mind that you can make up this shortfall by being catapulted instantly into a proceedable position. This in turn means you can buy with more clout and negotiate from a position of strength with your onward purchase. The monetary difference balances out.
Many sellers worry about going on to the market if they have not seen anything of interest to move in to. With so many off-market properties being sold at the moment, your dream home might just be waiting in the wings. You can speak to the agents about new properties coming on the market, but if your house in not yet on the market (and so you are not ‘proceedable’), the agents will see you as a weak buyer and won’t release some properties to you. No agent wants to jeopardise their reputation by allowing ‘time-wasters’ to make offers on the most desirable properties on their books.
The key to great estate agency is not necessarily about selling, but more about being the psychologist and managing expectations. The critical point is to get to a place where you, your agent, both solicitors and the buyers are all singing from the same song sheet. Without this common ground, your sale or purchase is likely to be very rocky indeed.
Alex Goldstein is an independent bespoke property consultant in Yorkshire and London (www.alexgoldstein.co.uk) 01423 788377