What use are Estate Agents?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussion' started by JWK, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. JWK

    JWK Gardener

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    An essay on uselessness.

    My daughter is trying to buy her first property and has been accepted onto this new govt funded shared equity scheme run by our local Housing Association. There are loads of properties on the market, many showing price reductions, and some have been unsold for months – it’s a buyers market surely.

    I assumed with the downturn in the housing market, and with reports of estate agents closing down and staff being made redundant, the remaining agents would be on the ball and desperate for their commissions, I could not have been more wrong.

    She arranged to view four flats here in Guildford.

    Property 1: Agent knocks on door – no reply, the Agent said “I had left a voice mail for the owner” Then we spotted someone through the window and eventually the door opened very slowly and a head appeared and said that they had no idea anyone was coming and would not let us in! Property 1 crossed off the list. :(

    Property 2 – same thing, no-one at home but the Agent had “definitely arranged that the owner would be here to open up, so perhaps we could come back to view it another day?” Unbelievable! :(

    Property 3 – this one is empty and the Agent has the key. We have a glimmer of hope that at last we can get a viewing, but inside it’s like a Turkish bath. The windows are steamed up and a dehumidifier is running full pelt. Obviously something is seriously wrong with damp, it is not very inviting, but my daughter does not get a chance to even get inside, she is outside being given the hard sell by the Agent who spends 15 minutes pushing his mortgage and insurance products (even though he has been told that this has been sorted via the Housing Association scheme and nothing else can be considered). :(

    We say a fond :cough: fair-well to this first Agent and meet up with another to view:
    Property 4 - this is a re-run of Property 1, some cock up on the communications between the Agent and owner (I have a good idea who made the mistake). The owner was not expecting us but at least does seem to be genuinely interested in selling, he asks if we can wait 5 minutes whilst he tidies up. The owner leaves the Agent to show us around. The flat seems nice but unfortunately the only thing the Agent knows about the flat is the price, he has no idea what Council Tax Band it is, what the Management Charges are, and has forgotten to bring any printed details of the property to hand over. Daughter is interested in this flat, and the Agent promises to find out the information. He does actually manage to phone back later suggesting that the flat is probably Band D but could be C. Whatever happened to HIPs? I thought all this basic information had to be made available as soon as the property went on the market. :(

    Next day my daughter pops into the Agency to pick up the printed details of the flat she liked, these consist of 4 pages. Great you may think, but the details are [email protected] to say the least. The first page has a short two sentence description of the property, pages 3 & 4 headed “Details” and “Floor Plan” are blank, the last page has four unlabelled photos. This property has been on the market with the same Agent for months but it appears it is too difficult for them to make any effort to prepare reasonable details. :(

    This is only the beginning of my daughters Flat search, she has another four to go and see this afternoon with another agent – surely they can’t all be so useless, we will see.
     
  2. lollipop

    lollipop Gardener

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    John,

    If she is willing to take a minor gamble-you get very very good deals at auctions. Especially on some of these brand new build flats, there are a lot of investors desperate to get rid of them. The divvies bought investment portfolios and never even looked at the flats.


    Unfortunately the estate agents take commission off both the buyer and the vendor-each agancy is vieing with the other for business, that means the cheapest (and definitely NEVER the best) will get the gig.

    If you pays peanuts you gets monkeys.

    The good deals are out there, but people are very unwilling to sell at a loss-except at auctions.
     
  3. JWK

    JWK Gardener

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    Thanks Claire its certainly an idea. I watched a telly programme earlier this week about Buy to Let in Manchester, and there are still some winners and losers. The winners were picking up bargains at the auctions (like you say) but one poor lady had bought 7 apartments off plan when she went to one of those Property Investment Seminars (a year or two ago). She had never even been to see the places and had even paid through the nose for them to be fully fitted out with new furniture (that looked like it came straight from Argos) She couldn't find tenants for them all so was about to sell at a massive loss. Some people are driven by greed and have become unstuck.

    We haven't really had such a mass of new apartments built around us, and auctions are few and far between as far as I know. There are still many investment buyers in our area that snap up anything that is new, as rents are sky high - shes will be better off buying a two bed flat than paying the rent on the single bed flat shes currently in.
     
  4. Loofah

    Loofah Well used member

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    John, the agents are completely targets driven ONLY. They have surprisingly little interest in the purchaser, their requirements or budget; they also receive minimal (as in none) formal training in how to approach a sale they're just expected to get them in by their managers. With that in mind, they're always concentrating on getting more properties to sell, rather than the actual selling of them (yes it is dumb) so they can always say 'look at our book, we have billions!'. This is a generalisation but a fair one as my mate used to work for Mann (largest in UK) and gave me a complete account of what he saw right up to the point where he told the area mgr where to keep his job... Quite vocally by al accounts. I digress...
    My own experience of EAs are they are a total waste of space and do nothing that you can't do for yourself but charge the earth for the privilege. I had exactly the experiences you describe above.
    Next time I'm finding one off my own bat, there are websites out there that cater for those who wish to sell their homes themselves (www.houseladder.co.uk is one that I just got off Google but there are others)
    As for HIPs, i think they're being phased in based on house size so don't be too surprised if they haven't got one.
     
  5. JWK

    JWK Gardener

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    Thanks Loofah, I know agents are only interested in their sellers commision (and thats fair enough, as a buyer you can't demand good service), and in the last few years they really had little to do, as properties more or less sold themselves. Now that there are hardly any buyers around I had hoped they might be making an effort. I won't be shedding too many tears when the Agencies start going bust.

    I'm off to see another one tomorrow that my daughter saw yesterday - it needs some work so fingers crossed it might be the one.

    Cheers
     
  6. JWK

    JWK Gardener

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    Update: The flat we saw looked good and the Estate Agent was well prepared, punctual and professional for a nice change. :thumb:

    So my daughter made an offer, which was accepted about 10 days ago. She has got solictors started as well as the financial stuff with the housing association and mortgage company on the go. So far so good.

    Suddenly she gets a letter from the Estate Agent telling her "... that they are sorry to learn that you have pulled out of the deal..."! This was also sent to the solicitors and vendor etc etc. This is not correct, and a quick call to the Estate Agents reveal: they have some new office staff that accidentally sent out this letter!

    No harm was done, as a few phone calls put everything back on track.

    You just couldn't make it up.
     
  7. Shobhna

    Shobhna Gardener

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    What JWK says happened to me also ...both times, the first time when I was buying an apartment and the second time when I was buying a house.
    Both times, I was told that they were very sorry that they had sent this letter out and it was new admins staff that had done it.

    Me thinks that this is a ploy to make the buyer and seller hurry up. They can't ahve ned office staff in every where.
    I never thought much of it till I read what JWK says and it seems rather strange that it happned to me too and twice at that.
     
  8. JWK

    JWK Gardener

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    Hmmm, that is very strange Shobhna, I really did think it was just a genuine mistake, now you say its happened to you as well is very suspicious. I can't see what they would gain in my daughter's case, its such early days so nothing can be hurried up much now. Anyway all the delays are with the sellers solicitors right now - ahhh, now I see what you mean when I just typed that. It's a ploy to make the sellers side speed up right now, ohh what a funny way to do business.
     
  9. lollipop

    lollipop Gardener

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    Sales offices are very strange places indeed. They have deadlines and sales figures to boost before the date falls. It isn`t the staffs fault really, they are under a great deal of pressure from ignorant and arrogant middle managers, who are in turn under pressure from remote upper management who have loist touch with the real world out there playing golf in Portugal.
     
  10. redstar

    redstar Total Gardener

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    I did not read the above threads, in addition to real estate folks, we have here a thing called "For Sale by Owner' if you google it you can find out what that is in detail. I have seen ads in newspapers for House for sale by owner, (individual ads) then I believe a estate lawyer is contacted to complete the deal saving both sides money. But check it out, for the details.
     
  11. JWK

    JWK Gardener

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    Claire: thats only too true :(

    Red: it is possible to bypass our Estate Agents here as Loofah said above, there are some websites set up over here that let a seller advertise directly. Or we can buy at Auction (as Claire say above) and finally some sellers just put up their own signs and do it all themselves, but all of these methods are very few and far between in my area so we are really just stuck with Estate Agents. I would guess some 99% of property sales are through estate agents in the UK.
     
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