By Philip Macdonald, managing director of Abbotts, based in Bury St Edmunds
As the housing market gradually recovers, with lending being eased and demand for quality properties outstripping supply, there is a temptation for some people to think that they could sell their own properties. When I raised this with a recently retired, but seasoned, estate agent – a survivor of three recessions in one of London’s most challenging and sought after residential areas – he laughed. “No way. Even though I know the business inside out, and know how to negotiate a good deal, I don’t know who’s really in the market to buy, and have no means of checking their credentials and reliability. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in 40 years in the industry, it’s to trust the professionals!” he said. “When I come to sell, I don’t want timewasters, crooks, potential squatters or people professing to be cash buyers, but aren’t, trotting round my house, casting their beady eyes over the results of a lifetime’s hard work. I’ll happily settle for a couple of genuine buyers, who have been carefully vetted, fighting to be the highest bidder and pay the agent for sealing the deal. He’ll have earned his fee.” Now that’s interesting, I thought. As a seasoned estate agent, myself, I share his view; there’s more to selling than meets the inexperienced eye. Nevertheless, some property owners are prepared to risk a DIY gamble. One seller recently ran a competition, inviting participants to pay £20 per ticket with a chance to win his £1m plus luxury house, with car and boat thrown in; he failed and subsequently instructed an estate agent, having lost several hundred thousand pounds in the process. But, rumours of a new free website, which allows people to upload details of their own properties without charge, may encourage more sellers to have a go, but – in my experience – there’s nothing ‘free’ in this world. There’s always a price to pay somewhere
along the line, and with burglaries on the increase due to the country’s current economic difficulties, a free website which doesn’t monitor users could be an open invitation to criminals to view your possessions from the comfort of their own homes. There’s also the question of arriving at the correct price tag. As my newly-retired estate agent friend also said, “we all overprice our own properties, it’s only natural to think ours is better than everyone else’s – when it surely isn’t! Prices go up, but they also go down, and if someone really wants to sell, they have to have a proper market appraisal by an experienced professional who is active in the local market and can produce evidence of recent sales and at what price.” So there’s another useful tip. He finally advised that sellers need “someone to nurse them through the process, to identify the best buyer and get his offer on the table, to do regular checks up and down the chain, keeping everything on track, but also with an instinct to pick up when something’s not quite right, and to remedy the situation. Those skills, especially in a difficult market, are worth paying for.”
He took the words out of my mouth.
Philip’s on 01284 704815