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Estate Agents – No licence to bill!

We’ve been having a discussion in the office this week… and we’re interested in your views.
Estate Agents, it’s fair to say, are not the most popular group of professionals in the UK.
But what is it that makes it so?
Is it a justified view? If so, would making it a more professional, licenced industry help?
Personally speaking – I love being an estate agent. I get to meet some really nice and very interesting people and help them at what is such an exciting time, (Mostly!). However, I strongly believe that there are some huge, fundamental problems that sooner or later must be addressed. Firstly – The money sloshing around for some of the young, let’s call them negotiators, is incredible. Entry level teachers, nurses, police officers, firefighters, (worthy and noble professions that really make a difference in this world), etc. would be absolutely shocked at what some eighteen and nineteen year old negotiator could earn in a good year without the need of any further schooling or intensive 10 week training course! – And often on the back of being in a particularly saleable area. Is this earnt through a degree of skill in sales – probably, yes and that needs to have a reward. Is it through a degree of integrity and honesty – possibly not. And that all starts with the fee you agree to pay your estate agent. Does it actually reflect good value for money? how do you know if it does or doesn’t? Are you, in fact, being completely ripped off?
Please people… shop around!
Arrange a few valuations and see how different agents approach the market. Seek recommendations, do some research and then compare. Although agents do similar things – rightmove, etc..Their ethos will be markedly different and that’s something you’ll pick up on fairly easily.
If your agent is charging a fixed fee – Is it reflective of what the likely achievable price is, or is it based on the “flying a kite” method of “we’ll try at this asking price to get you more money for your home”… this softens the blow of a higher fee; you get more so you’re willing to pay more. That’s fine if you get it. But what if you don’t? 1.5% can soon become 1.7% and that can escalate further. Agents will tell you that they no longer work on percentages, “to make it simpler for the client”… Until they sit in a meeting with their superiors, peers and colleagues and discuss their target fee of more than 2%! Plain and simply, It’s duplicitous and doesn’t sit well with me at all. So back to the negotiators..and their commission on the back of your fee. Individual targets and commission creates competition and motivation for the negotiators but how can it not be a conflict of interests where you have three or four staff members all trying to earn their commission out of one sale? How do you know which one to trust and believe when there might be two with an offer? you’re relying on them to tell you the truth and give you honest advice in your best interest and not their own and I’m afraid I’ve seen too much evidence of the mighty Sterling being worth more to them than that.

Why, oh why can we not be a Properly Licenced industry?

Yes, there are laws, rules, regulations and (optional) professional bodies with “operating guidelines” to be a part of but it’s just not enough. The professional bodies are often little more than an old boys club that just want to guard against new ideas, progressive marketing and  unless a complaint is actually brought through, first of all a companies procedure, then on to the Property Ombudsman against anyone then there really is rather little comeback for shoddy service or poor advice that suits the agents and not the client. With mortgage brokers having to go through so much to offer their advice and help, why shouldn’t estate agents?

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