Are estate agents the laziest ‘professionals’ in the world?

We’re trying to sell our house (in fact, we have been for a couple of months)  and it has proved to be one of the most frustrating experiences I’ve had in a long time.

I don’t know why I went into it with a sense of optimism given that my other experiences of buying/selling houses had been bad, but I just hoped that at a time when times are tough their service would’ve improved.

We bought our house when the market was up and estate agents never really had to do much to do – show someone a house and chances are that within 10 viewings you would have an offer.

But what astounds me is that their service hasn’t changed.  They add absolutely no value to selling a house. My main gripes are:

– These people are meant to be experts in the local market and keeping an eye on what is going on, but their knowledge only comes from seeing what is in the property papers.  If I wanted someone to regurgitate the paper, I would get it myself. You ask them what the market it looking like for similar properties and they’ll tell you what is on the market… finding out if your type of property is selling is like getting blood from a stone.

– They offer no advice about how to sell your property.  It is in their interest that the property sells quickly, so they should be honest enough to tell someone what people should do in order to make the house as attractive as possible – de-clutter, clean the carpets, etc.  However they do no such thing and when you ask them what you could do, they simply say ‘drop the price’

– They are clueless.  Two weeks ago we received a letter from an agent asking us to sign up with them.  Having the house on the market means we get this A LOT.  This is a nuisance, but fine.  What is not fine is that this letter came from one of the agencies we are with!  I mean, what the f**k?  It’s not terribly difficult to look at your database of properties versus where you are sending letters – to not do this it’s just plain lazy and plain stupid

– They either lie or are incompetent.  The number of people we have had through the door who suddenly say that they dislike a development has been immense.  They should be vetting these people and not wasting their own, the buyers and (more importantly) my time.  They’ve called me three times asking me for feedback on my own house!

– Like shops they have simpletons showing people houses at the weekend (their busiest time).  I understand that there is a resource issue, but if the person showing you around clearly has no clue about the house, how likely is someone to buy?  What impression does that give of the agency/house?

I work in the service industry and I just don’t get it. How do you expect to keep clients and sell properties if you offer no differentiation, if you add no value to the process.  It’s like me (in my role as Account Director in an agency) getting a client to create, write and design the ad then charge him a fortune for the privilege of me listening to them and emailing their ad to a newspaper.  It’s commercial suicide.

They don’t see that they could easily differentiate themselves from other agencies by simply advising people on how to sell their property and not simply relying on price reductions to houses shifted.  If something as simple as having some soothing music on when people come to view, then let your sellers know.  If neutral colours are better, tell them they should consider painting it.  People may not act upon it, but they will appreciate the fact that you are being proactive in making the house as saleable a possible, not simply getting on the phone to people saying ‘Wanna see a house?’

This sounds like a rant and this is a rant.  I’m just waiting for the day when an alternative is available for selling properties.  There are some person-to-person house selling websites but their reach is so limited that is it not a viable route to go down.

Maybe one day… until then I’ll simply have to keep going to my ‘happy place’ every few days.

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