The reputation of estate agents is pretty close to that of politicians or used car sales men – not great. So do stories about deliberately overvaluing properties to drum up business really add up?
I’m in the process of buying a flat and, despite working for Which?, this process has left me dazed and confused.
And I’m only dealing with one side of this – thankfully I don’t have a place to sell.
Selling leads to a whole world of other complications – like employing an estate agent, which in turn means valuations, contracts and fees.
Is overvaluing underhand?
Of course, there are stories of estate agents using underhand techniques, like overvaluing to get your custom. They’ll tell you it’s worth £250,000 and by the time you have to drop the price to get a sale you’ve already signed a contract.
However, like many things in life, it may not be this simple. The estate agents could just be trying to get the best possible price for you, and so testing the property out at a higher price.
In a tough market it’s not a ridiculous idea to approach the house-selling process knowing buyers will negotiate. The seller may also be in the driving seat and be requesting the higher prices – perhaps not taking account of the drop in housing prices in some areas.
Asking vs selling prices don’t add up
Whatever the reason, there’s evidence that asking prices and what houses actually end up selling for don’t seem to have that much in common. The asking price for the average house on Rightmove.com is £222,410 (December’s figures). But this doesn’t relate to what properties are actually selling for.
Halifax’s equivalent figures have selling prices at an average £162,435 and Nationwide an almost identical £162,763 – clearly, something doesn’t add up here.
And while house prices continue to fetch less than their asking price, estate agents are still charging high fees. So we’re paying thousands for their services but remain unclear about what we’re getting for this.
What are your experiences of estate agents? Do you think the valuation of your home was right? Did you think the fees you paid were reasonable, or could the estate agent have done more to sell your house closer to its asking price?