Friday, February 05, 2010

Hot To Trot - Friday

‘Oh great.’ Grumbles assistant manager T as he looks out through the window. ‘Here come those tools who’ve sold privately.’
A low-level groan of distaste echoes round the office, like distant thunder.
‘Well I’m not seeing them again.’ States T with finality and he vacates his desk then scuttles towards the toilets.

‘Blimey,’ I say to negotiator S with a grin. ‘Next time we replace his company car I’ll order him an Italian battle tank!’
‘What do you mean?’ Quizzes S a frown spreading across her pretty features, one’s I could wax more lyrically about than the bland pre-war semi details I’m trying to write-up.

And as the despised private sellers hesitate on the threshold, peering through the window disdainfully, I realise once again, S and I have little in common other than work.
‘More reverse gears than forward.’ I tell S realising immediately I’m the one getting bogged down, and just as I add: ‘They were supposed to be notorious cowards.’ S makes tracks herself.

‘Oh come on.’ I grizzle as she turns at the back of the office and give a fetching wave, before exiting to the ladies’ loo with a cheery. ‘Buona fortuna!’ Which I’m briefly thinking might be a new Premiership footballer as I dredge my rusty holiday phrases. Before I can retaliate with a witty, dos cervezas por favor, the door rattles and they’re in.

Agents dislike private sellers. Fact. It’s bad enough someone shipping-up whose sold with the opposition, as clearly it’s a missed opportunity for a lucrative double-deal. But at least you can verify their ability by checking the chain via your competitor. Unless they are completely useless – and granted plenty are – you can trace the number of people in the transaction, talk to lawyers and lessen the chance of your deal collapsing, due to the inability of a third party.

‘Good morning,’ I trill pasting the false smile across my features before hitting them with a nice open. ‘And how may I help you today?’ It’s less likely to offend and garner another complaint to head office than a curt: Piss-off you wasters we’ve nothing for you.

‘I don’t suppose you can.’ Sneers the husband to a nod of approval from his sour-faced wife. I can see why they sold privately. Notwithstanding their imagined saving on commission, only the desperate agents would be chasing their business after they undoubtedly milked several free valuations, before sticking their ghastly home made flag board up.

‘We’re on your mailing list already.’ Snaps the man when I ask for their details. They’re almost certainly not, at least not in our hot buyers section. People like this only get a call when we’re desperate to shift a pile that’s sticking, or about to lose a sole agency. With a waning grin that’s beginning to make my teeth ache, I gently ask again for the information.
‘What is it with you people?’ The woman spits angrily, taking the words right out of my mouth, but she grudgingly supplies what I need.
Then I ask for their position.
‘We’ve sold.’ Announces the woman smugly.
‘Oh good, exchanged contracts?’ I press mischievously.
‘No, of course not.’ Interjects the man. ‘Because you people can’t find us anything as nice as ours.’
‘Sold privately though,’ taunts the woman gratingly. ‘Saved thousand in commission.’
Not if you don’t move, I think sourly.

‘And your buyer’s position?’ I probe, looking for the information and credibility fellow professionals’ would normally supply
‘They definitely want ours.’ Says the woman dismissively.
‘Survey done and mortgage offer out then?’ I ask knowing full well the answer. And the atmosphere becomes as prickly as a blind man in a cactus farm.

‘You just all close ranks don’t you?’ Snarls the husband as they rise to leave empty-handed. And I can’t help myself.
‘I’ve someone who’ll pay up to £400k in your road.’ I tell the couple not altogether inaccurately. I know it’s a full forty grand more than they were probably offered, which means they might have undersold.
‘If you don’t test the market fully, it can sometimes be a false economy selling privately.’ I conclude to a shuddering doorframe.

I can’t understand why people don’t like us.


Anonymous said...

So you are refusing to pass details of properties to people who are probably good buyers, just because they've sold privately? You don't act for the sellers at all really, do you? You just act for yourselves. No surprise there.

Anonymous said...

You reap what you sew. It's a shame society expects you to be polite to these people.

Long time fan, first comment. Keep up the fine work SA.

Anonymous said...


From an EA’s perspective, are ALL sellers and buyers utter tossers?

I only ask because I need to vent & want sympathy – sorry that came out the wrong way - I mean, I’d really value your professional opinion on my situation.

We sold our house – through an EA - at a realistic price in August last year, and are renting, sitting on ca. £1m earning a pittance in the bank, really keen (despite misgivings about immediate future of UK property market) to buy a family home in a Scottish coastal town.

From that August, I have phoned nine local and national estate agents every fortnight, to see if anything was coming up. I’ve even signed a buyer’s agent agreement with two of them, to catch anything coming up off-market.

Over Christmas, I gave it a break. Since January, guess how many of them have contacted me directly, even to tell me that there was nothing on at the moment, but that they were still bearing us in mind? Yup, just the one.

I feel pretty savage about this. I don’t imagine they’re being rushed off their feet dealing with current transactions. To add further insult, I’ve just found out about two forthcoming sales (to be marketed through one of the agencies I had been phoning) via the local curtain lady.

Have we somehow become “those tools” without realizing it?

Jaundiced Seller

secret agent said...

To Jaundiced seller - should that read jaundiced buyer now? - and anonymous number one. The people I featured are habitual lookers not buyers. Every town has them, they find fault with properties, prevaricate and ultimately don't perform. Every home purchase is a compromise and those who are flexible and motivated will get taken seriously by a good agent.
In the unlikely event I had the right property for my private "sellers" and they threatened to perform I'd have several people more plausible and with more ability to proceed than them. They don't pay the bills, satisfied vendors do.
Jaundiced, you are either talking to poor agents - granted plenty to choose from - or have been wrongly pigeonholed as an uncommitted buyer. Good luck in your search and if all else fails keep in touch with the curtain lady.
Other agents and punters, let me know what you think.

Anonymous said...

As a fellow EA I too cannot stand professional viewers who simply have nothing better to do at the weekend than view some of the ghastly properties we have for sale, then explain to me (sometimes before we go over the threshold) why they are not interested.

And, in answer to anonymous 1, yes we do refuse to pass details on to some, because unfortunately we do not get paid per viewing with these wasters. And I sincerely hate making those phone calls to vendors explaining their buyers have pulled out of the sale because...well for no reason whatsoever!

Must dash, I have a 9:30 viewing with Mrs S, she's only been looking for 2 years and has nothing better to do until 11am when the kids finish footy practice...

The Sussex Idler said...

I too am an agent & it's true that you deal with EVERYBODY at one time or the other. The good, the bad & the ugly. I've had buyers and sellers become friends and had others I'd happily shoot!

I do valuations for people I know are using me & sell privately, I've helped an old lady in her ongoing purchase (recently widowed, no family, got 9k off the purchase price & was given some shortbread in thanks - I was really pleased)and have had a client 'sell privately' to some geezer in a pub who subsequently sobered up & backed out, not before my client had altered his life plans irrevocably......

To anonymous no.3 I'd say that the majority of buyers & sellers I meet are very pleasant and trustworthy people. SA is discussing a small minority of the total. There is a lack of houses coming on to the market, it means we've all had less houses to talk about. Equally, we can't market them until we have (most of ) the HIP. Consequently, the curtain lady may be right & you have agents keen to talk to you, but who can't at present, legally.

My advice is simple, for what it's worth: Agents & sellers, when it comes down to it, want buyers who don't just talk, but can and will exchange contracts. This means they have quality, verifiable chains or funds on deposit and proof of mortgage offer. Speaking personally, I am dreadfully lazy & always call the most likeable buyers whom I know have the above, first. So, my advice is hold tight, befriend an agent in every branch & you'll will find that they magically call you first. Why? Because you're popular, credible and serious. Every seller and EA wants this....not the kind of people SA so aptly described.

This PR strategy will work, you know. Good luck & make sure they call you first!

Best Regards,

The Sussex Idler.

Anonymous said...

To Jaundiced Seller/Buyer

As an EA there would be absolutely no reason I wouldn't be contacting you as a potential buyer for a property. The truth is there is very little property coming to the market at the moment. Unless you can see there is suitable property you are missing out on then you should have no reason to think you are being ignored. Unfortunately the curtain lady doesn't have to wait until the HIP is ready before doing her marketing either! And there is the matter of what people might do and what they actually do.

I'm sure something suitable will come up and you will be the first to know.

Unknown said...

"As a fellow EA I too cannot stand professional viewers who simply have nothing better to do at the weekend than view some of the ghastly properties we have for sale, then explain to me (sometimes before we go over the threshold) why they are not interested."

You reap what you sow indeed. I've been dragged round many an appalling and mis-described property, then been forced to explain the myriad obvious reasons why a property is unsuitable to an apparently ignorant EA, only to be patronised by them about my lack of knowledge of the market.

Last time this happened we picked up a place several times better and 10% cheaper.

Anonymous said...

I think I've been flagged as a timewaster by our local EAs. They never phone me anymore.

I suspect I'm unusual in that I'm quite fussy when it comes to spending a quarter of a million pounds on something that I will probably spend the majority of my life living in and devote ten years of my working life to finance. I suspect agents prefer people who do four or five viewings and make a decision in 15 minutes. I'm not like that.

I may do thirty viewings before I find a place I want. But given the agent will then receive around five grand, am I really wasting their time so much?

I loved looking at houses twelve months ago because agents were really keen and attentive. But now we're nearly back to the old days where agents feel they're doing me a favour by giving up their valuable time to allow me to spend 15 minutes whizzing round a house before agreeing to buy it on the same day.

Jeff said...

I dont understnd why EA's give free valuations, it would stop a lot of private sales.

Unknown said...

I've never understood why you're expected to make a decision there and then. People spend more time pondering whether to buy a car than a home. It's ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

"I may do thirty viewings before I find a place I want. But given the agent will then receive around five grand, am I really wasting their time so much?"

I'm neither for or against here, but lets think in business terms.

Say 30 viewings at 30 mins average = 15 hours. A fee at £5k would break down to £333 per hour before the hours chasing the deal through, costs of marketing, travel etc on top.

Not a great profit, if any.