Ah, estate agents. You gotta love them, huh? I mean, they’ve such a great reputation – almost as good as tabloid journalists (and bankers – surely les betes noires de nos jours…) However, despite their cursed habits such as telling you a property is ‘bijou’ when it’s actually a dump and that it ‘needs work’ when it’s a complete wreck; many estate agents (as with journalists and bankers no doubt) ARE well meaning. Yes, REALLY.
Perhaps it’s the wide boy image they’re given in the media, the idea that they’re always up for making a buck or two on the sly, perhaps it’s simply the fact that buying and selling property is an enormous hassle and that people automatically criticise people who are involved in the process; who knows?
Whatever the case here are three myths about estate agents busted. Yes, busted. Once and for all…
1 – Estate agents will tell you anything to make a sale
Ah, this old chestnut. Generally people seem to be under the impression that estate agents will tell buyers (and sellers) any old yarn in order to make the sale and get that commission. It’s widely believed that you shouldn’t trust everything they say and while this may have been true at one stage, these days estate agents rely a lot on word-of-mouth and repeat business as there’s a lot more competition. Plus, they are legally obliged to tell the truth – although they don’t have to reveal any information they’re not asked about. As well as this, a damning online review or news story could be disastrous for a smaller agency that’s relying on picking up new business. At the end of the day (to use a clichéd phrase) no decent agent wants an agitated client calling them up and pulling out of the deal as they’ve found something out that they previously weren’t aware of through their solicitor or the survey. Agents have a big incentive to ensure that a sale doesn’t fall through and the more they exaggerate, the less likely it will succeed. It’s in their interests to make you happy and to be as honest as they can.
And this brings us onto myth number two…
2 – Agent commission is based on sales (if only….)
You were probably unaware of this, but individual agents are rarely paid commission on securing a sale. Instead, money is actually made on getting a new property listed with them. Yes, you heard correctly. Therefore, it’s not in their interests specifically to lie to buyers, but to convince you they can sell your property quickly and effectively and that they’re the best estate agents in the area. The way they do this is by showing you history of properties they’ve sold etc and the kind of prices they’ve achieved. This means that in theory at least, they want to ensure as many sales go through as possible. However, it’s always important to remember that an individual agent is interested in doing whatever it takes to get you to commit to their property list.
Conveniently, this brings us onto point number three…
3 – The agent with the most listings is the best agent to call
It’s always tempting to go for the biggest agents, the well-known chains that always seem to get sales fast and have satisfied customers. It’s vital to remember though that you may not get the attention you deserve, as they’ll have lots of other clients to attend to. It’s true that sometimes the larger agencies put more pressure on their staff, they inevitably end up driving around here there and everywhere and may not have the time to prepare efficiently.
There are plenty more myths about estate agents, but these are three of the major ones. I bet you were surprised by number two! Another thing to add is that many people vastly over-estimate the money earned by agents and don’t really understand the way they operate. Of course, there’s no smoke without fire, you’ll always get dodgy people trying to rip you off. Just be aware though that the majority want their clients to be happy and to build their reputations off the back of this.