I’ve decided, given that my bottled water and posh grain free dog food is paid for largely by estate agent types, to produce a series of articles about them.
I’ll start with the rationale behind this.
I bought my first home in Oldham in 1988, in an area so rough that even dogs went round in twos, and have gradually self-gentrified with the heights being hit in a beautiful Edwardian villa in Norfolk, though now currently in a eponymous new build, straddling a new road, meant to ease congestion, which is defeated by building 1000 new homes along its narrow girth.
Property has always intrigued me – so much so that in 2014 when I was given the chance to go self-employed as a Sales Associate in a local estate agency, I grabbed it with both hands; then forming a partnership in Farrell Walton, before portal costs crushed us.
Enough of the stories though – let’s go to Part One: what is an estate agent?
The definition will vary according to who you ask – the general public often see estate agents as vain, bullshitting, lazy, lying, Mini-driving sharks, where truth is an alien concept.
Like any stereotyped generalisations, there’s truths in it – but also amongst the mediocrity there’s some absolute gems. I’ve experienced selling, buying and letting through some peaches of property management, and I work with many I’d gladly pay to sell or let my home, but there are some dodgy ones, I accept that.
Estate agency is one of the oldest professions – up there perhaps with prostitution – when they were called land agents.
Today though their job has evolved.
Horse and cart, clipboard and tweed, has largely been consigned to real estate museums.
They are now (or supposed to be): property listers, sales negotiators, valuers, photographers, social media marketers and writers, all whilst keeping that Mini clean and the sales funnel topped up.
An estate agent is often on no pay or low basic pay – to give them that hunger, supposedly, when at a “Market Appraisal”.
That valuation or MA puts food on their table – because if a vendor chooses you, your price, your services, all you have to do is sell it in 12 weeks and manage to exist on nothing until that commission hits your account.
It’s why when you call an estate agent out, they appear to be madly in love with you and your property – they will readily concede agreement with you that it is indeed “the best house on the street” and nod approvingly at your fanned Artex ceilings and avocado bathrooms.
The estate agent needs your home to list, because outside there are other sharks circling; other agents ready to pounce when that shrine to Artex creates little market impression.
But how do you get your foot in that door?
In the old days, it was simple, you waited. You waited for someone to wander down any high street in Britain and walked into yours.
Or they thumbed through Yellow Pages, or already knew of one they liked and trusted.
Now it’s all digital – agents lay awake at night, praying for valuation requests from Zoopla and Rightmove, who cost them more monthly than their fleet of Minis and salaries of £10,000 pa (where staff work alternate Saturdays, equating to about £4 a hour – no wonder most are miserable and stressed?)
They’ve got to be found online and someone thinking about selling their home, may ask three estate agents.
This is where the fun starts:
- Agent One will duly remove shoes, quote a valuation of £225,000.
- Agent Two also removes shoes (as he is told by the vendor that One did) and quotes £275,000, with a parting shot of I know someone who would buy this.
- Agent Three keeps shoes on and quotes £225,000.
Now which estate agency would be chosen? What factors were thought through by the vendor? What do the three estate agents do afterwards?
Tune in to Part 2, the listing.
Read more about me here.