Estate agents have long been scrutinised in terms of the value they offer and indeed the practises they follow. Consumers often question what estate agents actually do in order to command such inflated fees. Combined with this, the tactics adopted by estate agents to achieve a sale have often been questioned. This post aims to discuss some of these problems, and identifies how using MoveSelf can overcome them.
Problem 1: Cost
Cost is arguably the biggest factor when subscribing to any service – perhaps closely followed by the level of service on offer. The two common pricing models offered by estate agents today are commission based and flat fee.
Commission based estate agents charge a percentage of the sale price – regardless of how many property viewings they conduct in order to achieve a sale. This commission fee increases (and consequently decreases) with the price of the property. This percentage commission means that the cost of selling two similar sized properties in different areas can be vastly different, just because of where the property is located and how this affects the property price. This antiquated pricing model can cost property vendors thousands of pounds for minimal amounts of work in return.
Consider a more modern pricing model introduced by online estate agents, whereby property vendors are charged a flat fee for selling their property. The good thing about this approach is that it completely takes the aforementioned location aspect out of the equation, and doesn’t fluctuate with the value of the property.
Whilst the flat fee pricing model represents better value for money in comparison to commission based pricing, it still doesn’t float our boat. If your property sells inside a month, does a flat fee of £1000+ represent good value for money? We don’t think so.
Unfortunately both commission and flat fee models are priced to include the cost of services such as photography, floorplans, an EPC and property viewings. As a consumer you don’t have the choice to say “I don’t require your viewing services” or “I’ll provide my own photography”, and if you do it won’t be reflected in the price you pay.
MoveSelf only offer a pay as you go pricing model. What this means is the faster your property sells, the less you pay for selling it. Makes sense, right? You don’t get this level of granularity with a flat fee pricing model, and certainly not a commission model. It also means that the price of selling your property has no relation to the value or location of your property. You could save hundreds…probably thousands of pounds. Coupled with this, we offer you the choice to decide what additional services (such as photography) you require. You can build a completely bespoke package with us.
Problem 2: Acting in the Interest of Both Parties
As much as estate agents like to profess they are acting in the interests of both parties (the buyer and the seller), they simply aren’t. Because it’s impossible. How can you negotiate the highest price for the seller, and the lowest price for the buyer? You can’t.
Estate agents that charge a commission would favour a higher selling price since this means a bigger slice of the (commission) pie!
Then there’s the age-old issue of gazumping. Gazumping occurs when the seller of a property accepts an offer from one interested party, but then accepts a higher offer from someone else. This is legal in England and Wales prior to the exchange of contracts. But by that time, you may have paid for surveys and all sorts. The only way gazumping can be made possible is if the estate agent is facilitating it by passing on the subsequent offer. Again, this would be acting in the interest of the seller and not the buyer.
MoveSelf truly want to act in the interest of both the buyer and the seller – the process of buying and selling a property should be a pleasurable experience for both parties. Our industry standard online software ensures an unbiased service by providing a mechanism that enables property vendors and consumers to negotiate for themselves. Once an offer is accepted, no more offers can be made on a property unless the transaction collapses and hence it is impossible to gazump.
Problem 3: Viewing Availability and Sales Pitch
Put your hand up if you’ve advertised a property with an estate agent, only for them to phone you up and say “We don’t have anybody available to conduct the viewing at that time. Are you available to do it?”. Now put your hand down and read on. I’ve personally been a victim of this too. When you consider the price (in the hundreds or (gulp) thousands) you are paying to sell your property, this should never happen. Ever. The truth is that most people shrug their shoulders and perform the viewing themselves because:
- They are desperate to sell their property quickly
- They haven’t paid any fee up front they don’t feel like they’ve paid for a service up to that point, and hence are happy to do it themselves.
- They are eager not to lose a potential buyer!
Combined with this, property vendors never truly know the standard of the sales pitch provided by the agent to viewers of their property. Has the agent said “Go and have a look around and I’ll wait here”? Has the agent merely answered questions asked by the interested party? Or has the agent proactively offered opinions and professional advice?
Whilst the agent can offer local knowledge such as ‘there’s a bus stop around the corner’ and ‘there’s a pub up the road’, they probably won’t offer a more personalised perspective such as ‘the pub up the road offers a meal and a pint for £5 before 6pm on a weekday, and host a popular pub quiz on Tuesday nights’. And it’s impossible for them to go a step further and mention that ‘Doris lives next door, and you hardly ever hear a pin drop from her’ or ‘John and Mavis live over the road and invite you around for BBQs in the summer’.
Selling your property is not merely about selling bricks and mortar – it’s about selling the experience. The personalisation factor is why we believe you should conduct your own viewings. You know the intimate details of your property better than any agent will. You know about the surrounding area and have probably used local amenities on multiple occasions, and can transfer this knowledge on to the interested party.
Problem 4: Inadequate Communication between Interested Party and Seller
With traditional estate agents, the agent acts as a proxy between the interested party and the property vendor. What this means is that you rely on the agent to convey your message exactly as required, and indeed vice versa. You also rely on these messages being conveyed in a timely manner – not after the agent has been on their lunch break, not after they’ve finished their regional meeting, not after they’ve got off the blower to another interested party, not when they’ve returned from conducting a viewing for somebody else, and not the following morning if they’ve gone home at 5pm!
Any messages, viewing requests and offers submitted to the property vendor are relayed instantly. The property vendor is notified via email and SMS (if selected). This completed eradicates any possibility of messages being relayed incorrectly, or delays in communication.
Problem 5: Chinese Whispers between Property Vendor/Consumer, Agent and Conveyancer
I’ve experienced this issue personally. My conveyancer would phone me to give me a detailed breakdown of where we are in the process, what we have accomplished, and what we are outstanding. I would then get a call an hour later from my estate agent who attempted to relay the same message in a more high-level, abstract fashion. It was a pointless exercise. Firstly it was second hand information. Secondly the information took an hour longer to reach me. And thirdly the information was missing key details.
Instant updates in the conveyancing process are provided by the conveyancer using a simple checklist approach, so that you know exactly where you are up to in the transaction process. You can also message your conveyancer directly, and receive the responses you require first hand.
Problem 6: Underhand Tactics to Gain an Instruction
Who would you instruct to sell your property if MoveSelf suggested we could sell it for £100,000, but another estate agent suggested they could sell it for £120,000? You’d probably go with the other estate agent – even if £120,000 was unrealistically overvalued. This is one tactic used by estate agents to win instructions, only to disappoint the property vendor when they are advised to accept a lower offer at a later date.
Who would you instruct to sell your property if MoveSelf suggested we had no interested parties looking to buy a property like yours, but another estate agent suggested they had multiple interested parties? We guessed it. The trouble is, these ‘interested parties’ don’t often materialise and the promise of interested parties is another underhand tactic to obtain your instruction.
Indeed these aren’t the only underhand tactics adopted by some estate agents. It has been known for estate agents to:
- Undervalue properties with a view to selling the property internally or to a friend
- Withhold offers with a view to achieving a higher sale price at a later date
- Refuse to reduce commission if the sale price is lowered
- Use scare tactics throughout offer negotiations
- Arrange fake viewings
We won’t promise we can sell your property for more money than any other estate agent. If you choose us to provide an appraisal of your property, the resultant valuation will be based on statistics and metrics. Not finger-in-the-air opinions. Even then, the price you advertise your property for is entirely up to you.
Any leads that you receive will be based on hard, cold data in our database. Not fake promises. And offers and viewings will be managed purely by yourself for maximum transparency.