/ Home & Energy

Me versus the estate agent – how I won

Estate agent window

It’s always a pleasure to say I work at Which? but I wonder how many estate agents feel the same. With mortgage lending up 16% in June, more of us are dealing with them, but how many have a positive experience?

I’d like to think friends and family would consider me a gentle person. I’m not argumentative and I don’t go looking for dramas. Why then, did I lose my temper with our estate agent on not just one but numerous occasions when buying my little flat?

I’m embarrassed to admit that it got so bad that my boyfriend stopped me from communicating with her and he became the sole person to speak to or email her.

Emotions run high with property

Despite the drama, it worked hugely in our favour – I’ll explain why.

As is fair in the bidding process, we lost out to a higher bidder. However, I would not accept that the builder would prefer a slightly higher bid from a buyer yet to put their property on the market, over an offer from first-time buyers, with a mortgage agreed, a decent-ish deposit and no onward chain.

I’m speculating here, but I don’t think our original offers were ever sent to the builder. We had calls to confirm he’d rejected them and I challenged whether they’d ever been forwarded on.

Naturally, this went down badly with the estate agent and she took to making personal jibes: ‘it sounds like you can’t afford the property’, ‘I think you should look for something closer to your price bracket’, ‘it’s better suited to older couples’. Who was she to tell me where I should or shouldn’t live?

I reacted emotionally to these challenges – silly I know. I searched the Companies House website to try and find the contact details of the builders but had no luck. Part of my problem was my fury at not knowing where to turn when we were having issues. I wanted to challenge the estate agent but I didn’t really know how to.

I won the estate agent war

I’ve learnt a great deal from our fabulous legal team here at Which? and think I’d be better equipped to deal with an issue in the future – especially now I’ve located our guide on how to buy a house. But I’m interested to know if anyone has a positive experience to share – estate agents offering brilliant customer service or going the extra mile. Or have most faced similar hurdles to me?

The moral of the story is that greed got the better of our estate agent. Instead of accepting our original offer five months earlier, they ended up selling us the property at £10,000 less than our original asking price. Charlotte 1, estate agent 0.

Comments
Member

Whilst I can understand how you were somewhat unhappy with the way things went for you I cannot see how you can describe this estate agent as “your estate agent”.
The estate agent acts for and is paid by the seller (not the buyer). If anyone should really be aggreived by the agent not passing on an offer it’s the seller. As the buyer you really have no comeback. If the agent acting for the seller in any way rejects your offer then I’m afraid that’s it, game over.
Your attempt to talk to the seller direct was a good idea. Had you got through you would have enabled the seller to deal with what sounds like poor service from the agent, but the whole issue was something between the seller and his or her agent, and really not much to do with you, annoying as it must have been.
When faced with a situation like this, even though you may have had your heart set on this property, there is little you can do.
The fact you bought the property five months later for £10,000 less I think is more to do with lack of buyers and the way property prices have fallen rather than some great victory over the agent. Their commission didn’t suffer much if at all. The real loser in all this was the seller even though the agent appears to be the root cause of the problem. Estate agents seem to have a knack of coming out of situations smelling of roses. This are probably why estate agents get the bad press they do.

On the bight side estate agents are having to work rather hard at the moment. Nothing like so many buyers around and many sellers are having trouble coming to terms with the notion that to sell in a world of impoverished buyers the price has to come down.
The old standard estate agent trick on sellers isn’t working so well at the moment either. This is where they value a place too high to sucker the seller into a 3 month sole agency contract. They start advising price reductions very quickly after you’ve signed up of course to give the best chance of a quicker sale and to get their commission sooner. Trouble is because of the current housing market situation sellers arn’t believing them anymore

Like in any profession there are good estate agents and bad. I’ve sold and bought a few houses and found smaller independents better than the larger chains. I even managed to sell one house without an estate agent now I thought at the time that was a real victory.

Member

Good for you Charlotte!

I am experiencing a few similar things at the moment. When I bought my first house in Leeds, I didn’t use an estate agent, I was informed of the property when I was viewing next door, I knocked on the door and the rest is history.

My girlfriend and I are also buying a place together, but we’re not going through an estate agent, just directly to the builder. Buying from the builder we got 10k off the asking price and 11.5k gifted deposit, along with upgraded kitchen and all the rest of the fixtures and fittings. Granted we are not buying in London, but we are buying somewhere that is just 35 minutes away and instead of a small flat, we get a 3 bed semi by the river.

I am having to use an estate agent for the selling of my house in Leeds, like you I am having issues with them charging extra without telling me up front, and so I am now on my second estate agent!

Luckily they’re not all the same so just steer clear of Manning Stainton if you ever want to buy in Yorkshire 🙂

Member

I live in quiet a small town – 3000ish people and that is services by about 5 estate agents (although 2 are from same parent co) I was surprised by the lack of competition and differentiation between them. Very little movement on price/conditions etc – I went with the one that at least sounded the most genuine amongst them – and from a selling perspective they are doing quite well. However I do share some similar frustrations with the offer process. We had a buyer for our place who wanted to move quickly and our offer was straight rejected on the place we wanted – while it was quite low the property had been on the market for a long time – It would be nice to see a written (or even online) offer/rejection process that goes direct to the seller – using the estate agent as an intermediary in facilitation only giving a nice audit trail to ensure fairness – get the feeling that wouldn’t be too popular with agents tho….

Member

I *love* this idea – I had similar problems to Charlotte when I bought my flat, although in my case I put in a higher offer, my mortgage had been agreed in principle, and the accepted offer came from someone offering less and with no mortgage. At the insistence of my sister, who is a lawyer and quite brave about these things, I went into the agent’s offices and asked them what was going on. It turns out they had ‘recommended’ to the seller that they accept the other offer because the other buyer was going to get a mortgage through their broker, and use their solicitor, which would ‘just be easier’. I think that’s code for ‘just get me a bit more commission.’

I wrote a letter and popped it through the seller’s door, letting her know that I didn’t think the agents were acting in her best interests, telling her my full offer, and giving her my mobile number. I appreciate that the agent had no responsibility towards me, but I think in a situation like this where they can be shown to be acting demonstrably against the best interests of the seller, something like the system you suggest would work well. But then… what would the estate agent be doing for his/her commission? =)

Member

Good point @Chris. I used the term ‘my estate agent’ rather loosely as they really were the seller’s estate agent. But as you say they weren’t working in the seller’s best interest either. One thing I neglected to mention was that they accepted the higher offer on the condition the same estate agents sold their house. They didn’t know I knew this – I just happened to know the other bidder! Somehow I think they had their own interests at heart with this rather than the seller’s.

@Dean – if you need any template letters for resolving the issues you had with your first estate agent we’ve plenty on the site. http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/making-a-complaint/dealing-with-problem-estate-agents/sample-letters/ . Sounds like our ‘No advance information on charges’ one would do the job.

@Lombear – your idea sounds interesting. I’ll pass it on to colleagues to see if it’s something that could be taken forward.

Thanks
Charlotte

Member

I would be surprised if the current estate agent model persists after 5 years.

I would think someonelike rightmove would already be working on removing them from the equation – after all the EA is only really useful for supplying the floorplan etc for the house these days. With an online guide you could do that yourself and list direct to rightmove. Then they just need a ‘Make an offer’ button and upsell links to local solicitors. There you go – a simple business plan to get rid of estate agents!

Member
Mark Deviance says:
5 August 2011

This behaviour is common place, no one should be surprised. It takes a certain kind of person to become an estate agent. I’m sure they’re born with that crap haircut, and wearing a plastic suit.

Member
James says:
6 December 2011

Haha Mark that’s not fair saying “it takes a certain kind of person to become an estate agent”, I can imagine this sort of foul play is very common yes, but I don’t think it’s right to make it into a generalisation.
I am quite up for becoming an estate agent because I like the idea of presenting a house to someone, and as it’s probably one of the biggest purchases someone is likely to make in their life I would like to be a part of helping someone to find the best home they can get with there money, I know estate agents have bad rep but I do intend to build an honest relationship with each of my clients as I think in the long run it’s better.

Member
Uzume says:
7 August 2011

@Lombear there would need to be a way to view, of course, and this may be the only downside to your idea. EAs do offer a secure way to look at properties. However, maybe EAs could become Hpuse Viewing Assistants instead, on around £20,000 pa with 0.25% commission from the proceeds of the sale if a house sells due to their knowledge and professional behaviour.

I have bought and sold several houses and my experiences have been very mixed. I hate the ‘cheeky chappie’ EA who comes across like a used car salesman and I am equally underwhelmed by the ‘cool kid’ type with Hollyoaks hairdo and pinstriped skinny suits. That said, I have had some very professional and good EAs who just do a job and do it well.

I also bought and sold a house in the USA and I have to say, the UK system is better. In the US, anyone can show your home from a big database that is accessed online. This means that when we were shown properties, they simply read the info off a sheet, (the same as we had access to) and knew little about the property or area. When selling, you pay the listing realtor and the agent who sells. We negotiated a fee of 5% (3% for the realtor, 2% for the agent) which was 1% lower than average as we knew the agent, not well, but enough.

All in all, most EAs in the UK, from my experience, do some work to sell a house… not so much in the USA where in general, they would just walk along behind us guessing where everything was along with us or saying nothing at all. For that they get 2%!!

Member

I have never quite understood how the estate agent manages to command so much more in commission than the solicitor gets in fees for selling a property, especially when you consider the relative responsibility levels exercised. I have been following the property market for years and am astonished at how poorly agents perform on behalf of their clients: titchy adverts, no street name, badly written particulars, inadequate information, appalling photos, hasty viewings, lack of communication, and so on. Their contributions to websites are dreadful, with sloppy descriptions, no floor plans, bad location maps. They can’t even be bothered to find out the Council Tax band or name the relevant local authorities and water company. “Early viewing is recommended in order to avoid disappointment . . .” they say; I’m sorry, as a prospective purchaser, I’m deeply disappointed already. Of course, in the present market, they are absolutely petrified of reducing valuations to realistic [i.e. supply/demand determined] levels because that would pull the rug out from under all the other properties on their books, and, they would argue, that is not in their clients’ best interests. So many chains collapse nowadays because agents are resigned to taking six months to find a buyer. There is the sole remaining hope that as the number of people putting their house on the market of their own volition continues to fall the market will be driven by executor sales and other enforced disposals where time is not infinite and capital has to be raised. Estate agents are being fortuitously sustained by lettings at the present time but I foresee a flight from rental in due course as landlords fail to manage their properties properly, the long-term unsuitability of private sector rental becomes more readily appreciated by both tenants and owners, and more funds are released into the market. I agree with so many of the comments above and especially the idea of transparent offer consideration; agents are supposed to bring willing seller and a willing buyer together, not stand between them playing games with their emotions. I also think they should be more involved in the honest fulfilment of the Sellers Property Information Form which is the cornerstone of the transaction; the seller’s solicitor disowns it [merely acting as a conduit] and the agent does not even assist the seller with its completion [should be necessary before they even formally accept instructions to market a property]; the oblique excuses and omissions must be the biggest cause of hold-ups in the conveyancing process as buyers try to ascertain the facts. At least in the present slump buyers have plenty of time to inspect a property very thoroughly – they are strongly recommended to take as much time as they need, have several viewings, get proper answers to all their questions, and not be pressured by agents to slam in an offer and face uncertainties later.

Member
Suri says:
23 June 2012

Agree 100% with Lombear, it’s only a matter of time before estate agents will and should be removed from the equation. It used to be the case before the recession(s) that a for sale sign was put up and your house was sold in a matter of weeks with the EA happily collecting their fee at the end having put in little or no work to complete a sale. Now they are actually having to work at their job and by god are they struggling. I honestly have not got a good word to say about estate agents, they are the ones who are making the business of buying and selling houses so stressful, it’s like they are playing god with one of the biggest financial transactions any of us will ever make. I have had numerous dealings with estate agencies in the both Glasgow and Edinburgh and I can honestly say I could not recommend one. Doing away with them and implementing a similar idea to the one Lombear has suggested would get this market moving and remove the distress that comes with dealing with Estate Agents.

Member

I viewed a property twice and subsequently made an offer of £315,000, the property was being marketed for £350,000. My finances were also in place and I had no chain. 5 days later I had heard nothing so I contacted the agent, only to be told that my offer had been declined and the seller was prepared to sit and wait for an offer much closer to the asking price. The agent agreed to keep me informed of any other interest or offers made. 2 weeks later I saw on the Internet that the property had been sold (subject to contract). I phoned the agent to complain about not being given the opportunity to counter offer but was told they couldn’t discuss anything with me. I was extremely angry about the poor service and lies, however, I was further confused to find 2 months later that the property had been sold for £250,000.

Member
Darren says:
15 January 2013

I put my house up for sale last April in that time I had only 15 people look at my house so I decided to take my house of the market. But every time I spoke to the agent to take it off they say that they have done but every time I look on there web site my house is still up for sale? I have talked to them 4 times since November but still nothing has change can I get help

Member
DoucheandCo says:
6 February 2013

“I am really surprised the owner didn’t tell me there is asbestos in the roof”

What’s the biggest load of crap your real estate agent has tried to feed you?

doucheandcorealestate.tumblr.com/

Member

Hi all,
We are campaigning for estate agents to publish their fees up front and transparently so that consumers can make considered decisions and force agents to compete on price. As part of this campaign we are conducting a survey on how much people have paid to sell their house. Please take a couple of minutes to help us with this campaign by filling out our survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5ZR7MRJ
Many thanks,
Ed, HomeOwners Alliance,

Member
george Dodgeson says:
1 April 2014

LET THE (HOUSE) BUYER BEWARE!

This compilation is intended to be read particularly by house buyers. It is a caveat emptor for those unfamiliar with what goes on in the housing market today (2014). If you are a first timer, you really DO need to read this.

In my time, I’ve bought and sold something like 14 houses since I was in my twenties, to include a London leasehold flat. I live in Leeds now, and have done since 1984. Up until recently there hasn’t been much trouble for me from estate agents. If only I could say that now! The existence of the internet and the number of people with on-line access has changed things, and has highlighted certain practices by estate agents, some illegal, some not, but always reprehensible. If you want to be savvy about these practices, and you’re going to spend £100,000 plus of your own money, or borrowed from a building society, THEN READ ON!

Probably the most common scam perpetrated by agents is simple LYING. The classic one is — “we’ve had a rather better offer than that Sir”. IF a better offer has indeed been made, it carries no hard evidence with it whatsoever. It’s merely word of mouth by a very interested party, the agent. Don’t underestimate the importance of simple lying. Think — are you going to trust these people with anything between £100,000 and £400,000, knowing they are lying to you? Of course you aren’t. Walk away and don’t go back. Think again — would you spend £5,000 on a second-hand car knowing the dealer was a notorious scammer? Of course not. Then you won’t spend twenty to EIGHTY times as much with a lying estate agent. It used to be possible to detect these estate agents who were up to no good by typing their names into an internet search engine plus the word “complaints” or “problems”. For some strange reason, that facility no longer seems to work like it did, so you have to cast your net(!) further.
Then there is “virtual lying”. What’s that? Virtual lying is NOT telling you something you really should be aware of. So you have to be on-guard for this one. Examples: You aren’t told there are savage dogs being kept next door. You aren’t told there are neighbors from hell next door. You aren’t told there is a pig farm nearby which stinks when the wind is in the right direction, and so on. YOU must do your own homework, and take your time over the deal with repeat visits to the area at different times. It’s all about checking, checking, and more checking.

The second most common scam is overpricing the property for what it is and where it is, partly to please the vendor, and partly to get the vendor’s business, and to hope there is an idiot out there with CASH. Remember, “fools and their money are soon parted”. True, — but someone usually has parted them from their money already, so that side of the scam doesn’t work. Overpricing is easy to detect. Websites like Rightmove/Zoopla publish recently SOLD properties nearby, based on land registry figures. It’s usual to reckon on 5% ‘haggling room’ in a house sale, but overpricing means 20 to 25% over.

The third most common scam is the exact opposite of the above, UNDERPRICING. That scam attracts naive buyers into thinking they might get a bargain. The first law of house buying — THERE ARE NO BARGAINS! There is always a reason a price seems cheap. Example: The house needs a humungous amount of money spending on it. Tot. that one up and you’ll find you’re spending more on it than if it were ok in the first place. Builders are charging a lot more for their work than they used to, so beware. Example: No-one wants to buy it for a variety of reasons — it’s a flat with a short lease (typical of ex. council flats), — or one of it’s utilities is missing (i.e. no gas supply), — or it’s next to a scrapyard, — or it’s next to a bad ‘pub, next to a bus stop, etc. etc. ad infinitum.
Be very careful about UNDERPRICING. Both gazumping and gazundering are rife here, the agent is trying to start a price war with you as a victim. A victim may have spent up to £1000 on two surveys, his own and the building society and his lawyer drawing up a contract to buy, only to be be gazumped at the last moment before contracts are exchanged. Then that gazumper can try guzundering the vendor at the last minute just before contracts are exchanged. In this type of case, everyone seems to be trying to scam everyone else. DON’T GET INVOLVED! JUST WALK IF YOU’RE SUSPICIOUS. REMEMBER, REMEMBER, THERE ARE NO BARGAINS WITH HOUSE SALES! OF COURSE, YOU COULD PAY TOO MUCH!
And a word here about house AUCTIONS. A HOUSE ONLY GOES TO AUCTION WHEN IT CAN’T/WON’T SELL THE USUAL WAY. AGAIN, THERE ARE NO BARGAINS HERE! These houses always fetch a lot more than the so-called “guide-price” and are in such a poor condition they only interest builders who will simply sell them on, after a cheap refurbishment.
And another word, about television shows re. selling/buying property. These shows are ENTERTAINMENT ONLY and shouldn’t be taken seriously at all.

Now onto agents themselves. There is no doubt that the large national estate agents, especially the ones who also act as rental-agents for landlords, are the most likely to be indulging in scams. This is exactly how they got so big over time. Old established LOCAL estate agents are much more likely to be fairly honest.
If you find there is a TENANT in a property up for sale, alarm bells should be ringing in your head. NO LANDLORD IN THIS WORLD SELLS A HOUSE THAT IS PRODUCING GOOD RELIABLE RENT. There must be a reason he is selling it, and you must find out WHY. E.g., it may need a humungous amount of money spending on it to fulfill regulations/fix a fire escape problem/fix subsidence etc. Generally speaking, DON’T BUY A HOUSE WITH A TENANT IN IT! MUCH BETTER BUY AN EMPTY/VACANT PROPERTY!

Now we enter the crazy dark world of the SERIOUS SCAMMING ESTATE AGENT. And this first scam is to FULLY ADVERTIZE FOR SALE A HOUSE THAT IS NOT FOR SALE AT ALL! The classic “FAKE-SALE”.
This wierd practice goes on everywhere. The first clue is THE TENANT IN RESIDENCE as mentioned before. The second is that you just don’t seem to be able to get in it to view. There is always THE EXCUSE. The best one I came across in Halifax was “sorry sir, the vendor has gone on holiday abroad for three weeks”. (One instantly wonders why the owner didn’t leave some keys with the agent!) But the classic excuse is to get a ‘phone call from the agent just before you go to view after an appointment has been made, with (a) “The vendor has withdrawn it from the market” or (b) “The vendor has accepted an offer yesterday” — ( that’s a silly one — what genuine vendor wouldn’t find out first what YOUR offer might be after viewing?) Now you are alerted, you’ll be able to recognize the scams. Another fake-sale scam giveaway is “the completely disinterested in you” syndrome; example: You get a no-show as they deliberately fail to turn up for a viewing; and when you call them you are met with a wall of arrogance, completely out of character for a salesman. Another example: A house has been on the market for two years at a fair price and hasn’t sold. And, what a surprize, it has a TENANT. It’s a fake-sale scam for sure. Note the scamagent and KEEP WELL AWAY FROM THEM! The scamagent will go for all the usual advertizing, by sale boards and Rightmove/Zoopla, even mentioning the Government “right-to-buy” scheme. The scamagent is doing this in conjuction with the landlord to get his advertizing boards up on the property and to get the property on Rightmove/Zoopla for more advertizing. This “bigs-up” the scamagent making them seem to have more houses for sale than the truth, thereby attracting “floating-vendors” who haven’t yet made up their minds who to use as agent.

Another subtle scam on you as a buyer is the TINY LITTLE QUESTION slipped into the conversation when you call them to inquire about a property in which you’re interested, but don’t know is a fake-sale. And that tiny little question is — “Do you have a house to sell Sir”?
If the house is a fake-sale, this scam gets you into conversation with the scamagent about other houses the scamagent has for sale after telling you an offer has JUST been accepted on the property you called about — but they DO have LOTS of houses you will be interested in buying instead! They are so helpful and considerate it’s not true! (It’s not true all right… and that’s irony)… As you likely will have a house for sale also, It makes for a chance of getting YOUR house for sale onto THEIR books, thusly replacing one they are trying to sell to you. ONE HOUSE DOWN, ONE HOUSE UP. GOOD BUSINESS FOR THEM! REMEMBER, MOST BUYERS ARE ALSO VENDORS OF THEIR EXISTING HOUSE. Only 1st. timers aren’t.

One positively illegal activity (possibly shown up by suspiciously cheap sales IN BLACK* on the “sold house prices” sector of Rightmove/Zoopla), is to hold back a decent offer from a buyer like you by not telling the vendor. The scamagent then tells you after 24 hours your offer is refused. Eventually after a long while like several months, the scamagent tells the vendor a very modest offer has been made by a Mr. X., and it would be sensible to accept it. Upon completion of the sale, Mr. X. gives the scamagent a massive backhander of thousands of pounds. Mr. X. is probably a buy to let landlord with a big portfolio of property, well trusted by the scamagent.
*Right now I’m looking at a Halifax property sold 18/12/13 for only £37,883 — when houses in the same short street were selling in 2010 and 2013 respectively for £125,000 and £130,000 — most peculiar. The sold entry is in black — no advertizer, so I can’t find out what agent was involved. This of course could be a %age ownership deal, (but not likely at the address with those properties. Entries in blue have the link to the agent.

I think the days of the conventional estate agent are now numbered, and this will of course include the scamagent. Along with retailing operations like supermarkets, many enterprizing on-line agents now exist, advertizing properties for sale directly for the vendor ON-LINE. In return for a fee of £500 to £750 instead of around £2000 with conventional agents, they will advertize your property on Rightmove/Zoopla. All the vendor has to do is —
a) Provide some pictures of the house, together with the usual room dimensions, facilities, town, street etc.
b) Show the house to buyers like you by arrangement from the telephone number in the advert.
c) Ensure that you, the buyer have your loan in place or have proveable cash.
The advantage of on-line house selling is that the vendor deals DIRECT with YOU, the intending buyer, so scams are IMPOSSIBLE. There can be no subterfuge by a scamagent fouling things up and slowing things down.

Member

I have had many critical things to say about estate agents in the past but I cannot go along with everything George has said above.

There are significant advantages in using an estate agent who advertises your property on one of the major property websites. They have unrivalled market exposure and one of them, in particular, has virtually complete coverage of available property and works exceedingly well as a website: very powerful and very fast. The drawback is that the only way onto these websites is via an affiliated estate agent and the individual seller, or even an independent on-line property marketeer, cannot post on them. To some extent this is a protection for both buyers and sellers because the major websites will only deal with established agents and have a consistency of navigation, format and content that is helpful to house-hunters.

Although there are no doubt some dodgy ones, in our considerable experience of using estate agents we have found nearly all of them to be honest, trustworthy,and professional. Buyers and sellers have to use their intelligence, observe closely, examine everything carefully, and ask the right questions in order to avoid pitfalls, but buying a property is such a serious matter that nothing less should be contemplated. Good agents are essential when there is a chain on either side of a property transaction, and although they are instructed by the seller, once a buyer’s offer has been accepted they have a vested interest in assisting the buyer along the path to purchase and they usually are accessible and cooperative in that process.

As other recent Conversations [“Are estate agents getting a bad rap?” (24/02/14) and its follow-up “Your view: are estate agent fees fair?” (28/02/14)] make clear, there is considerable dissatisfaction with the fee-charging policies of estate agents in relation to what they actually do, and in respect of the lack-lustre marketing performance of some agents [but it is not difficult for sellers to choose better agents – a look at a major property website readily shows those who go the extra mile in a particular district or offer a superior service].

Yes, there are some problems of conflict of interest and alternative agendas that might lead some agents to put their own interests above their client’s, and any number of advice columns have guided sellers on how to judge the valuations offered by agents. It has to be recognised that the factor of time can often distort the market value of a property, and also that all properties on the market at any particular time are having to compete contemporaneously against all the others of the same type in the desired location, size range and price bracket; as some get sold or others enter the market the relative attraction of a property changes day by day. As an activity it is too complex to be left to an estate agent alone and the buyer or seller has to exercise their own diligence and scrutiny at every stage.

The one thing about deciding to buy or sell a property is that it’s not usually a spur-of-the-moment event so should not be entered into lightly or carelessly. Except perhaps in London, the market is not moving so fast that people need to take a chance or cut corners on their deliberations.

Member
george Dodgeson says:
2 April 2014

I would have agreed with John Ward about conventional estate agents being useful if it were a few years ago, but things have changed. Nowadays, if I were selling a house I would def. go for on-line agency, because:–
1) The fee is very much less, esp. if you’re selling in London/home counties.
2) YOU have much better control over what’s going on with your sale.
3) Yes, you have to work more and be careful about the buyer’s credentials, not getting involved in chains etc., but I don’t mind work if it’s to my advantage — and I’m saving money.
4) Most people are using Rightmove/Zoopla on-line to find a house in the first place anyway, so it makes sense to continue the methodology.

Member
george Dodgeson says:
2 April 2014

In a previous contribution, I wrote “Government’s right to buy scheme” when I should have put “HELP to buy”. — Apologies.

Member
first_time_buyer says:
3 October 2014

I am a first time buyer and had an interesting experience in the bidding process. The asking price for the flat was 830K. An agent told there is someone at 800K already. Being serious about this property at the time I came in with the 815K first bid. The agent told there have been more bids over this weekend and hence the owner has asked to come back to all the interested buyers to see if they could improve they offers. The estate agent told my offer is the highest but it would be wise to improve it if I am serious about the flat. So I have raised it to 820K. He then came back that this is one of those nitty-gritty cases where everyone continues fighting, so the owner has asked to submit the final offers by noon next day. The advice of the estate agent was ‘to throw couple K in’ just be sure. According to him, the other bidders were just couple K below me, but really close. However I have decided that I would stay at 820K. At that point I did not doubt about the other competing offers but I have started doubting whether I really like this flat that much. It’s one of the smallest within the Mansions block so at 820K is really expensive per sq foot (calculation I should have done prior bidding this number). So, not increasing the 820K I was expecting to naturally loose out the bidding war and get out of the situation. To my surprise, the agent phoned up 2 days later to congratulate me with winning the flat. I took a day to think things over and then next day, Saturday morning, informed that I am pulling out. I really did not want to mess it up for the seller so he still has got all the other buyers. The surprising bit was when the estate agent has called me on Monday morning and told that the seller will give me the flat at 810K! That’s 5K below my first offer!! That’s when I smelled the rat – most likely there have never been another competing offer, the estate agent was trying to squeeze out the max! It’s rather unlikely everyone decided to change their mind at exactly the same time. Currently, 3 weeks later, the flat is still available to buy on Zoopla and all other main pages. I am wondering how ethical the behaviour of the estate agent is. Of course he’s acting in the interest of the seller. However given the seller would have been happy at 810, maybe he isn’t the best at selling either. Maybe all estate agents are like that? I know for sure I should have asked to confirm that there are other bidders in approx. that range via email. However currently I have crossed over this agency from my list.