The final piece of the jigsaw to get the UK economy growing healthily again

This is really the final piece of the OLD jigsaw, which explains the good and the not so good relationship between those selling or indeed letting houses, and their appointed estate agents.

Knowing how to better this is knowing how to shape the future. May you enjoy reading it and may all those involved in such matters, prosper from the intuition they can gain from this unique muse about the housing market.

Here’s the thing. Human beings are, by nature, essentially optimistic. Fine…

Given this however, a group of sales people calling themselves estate agents, have as their main strategy (or business model) a plan to do their market appraisals in an overly optimistic way to beat their competitor agents and get an increased share of business as a result. Unfortunately, this is an extremely bad business model.

The given objective of this ‘flawed’ plan is to find sufficient business, or selling contracts and for a proportion of these to convert into actual commission – in the end!

The rest? Ah well… as they say, is history :-)

Some houses will just languish on the agent’s books in a downturn, simply gaining the agent concerned, extra advertising kudos and may with luck and a tail wind eventually become actual sales.

Some will get sold at a reduction, at the request of the client but will still earn the agent good sales commission.

Some will get withdrawn unsold but then will usually move to a fellow agent’s books so in most cases the agents, as a troupe, will continue to sell most of the houses actually sold and will therefore be unperturbed about the lengthy time it takes to sell on average.

The majority of sellers (or clients) on the other hand, will have to be more patient than ever, especially in the downturn, and most will need to be content merely with being hopeful of success whilst this scenario is playing itself out; that is if they wish to get a sale at anywhere near the level of prices being chalked up by the troupes of agents competing with each other for their initial instructions! How very sad.

To look at things from a more revealing angle and help to put things into a new perspective (whilst not wishing to extol the virtues of the average estate agent unduly), their behaviour is more akin to that of eagles preying upon far more numerous but much slower-flying cranes. We are told by the venerable David Attenborough in one of his nature programmes recently, that cranes actually started to become the eagle’s staple diet in the high Himalayas, where eagles originated from many moons ago. To explain, in this simile the cranes are the house-owners whilst the estate agents are the eagles, more recently evolved, but preying upon cranes to obtain their food (or in the case of estate agents, their commission).

It may be seen in this new light that agents (or eagles as there may more appropriately be described) are cleverer and more adept than the average crane (or house-owner). They should therefore be respected rather than being denigrated, for they are far from being unintelligent or stupid although understandably, some cranes with strong feelings may sometimes wish to try and portray them as such!

The fact is, there’s a finite pattern occurring here. It’s that the agents have evolved to a state higher in the ‘food chain’ than the cranes.

One way forward may be for all cranes to understand or accept this and perhaps slowly begin to teach the eagles to start eating seed rather than meat? That, I think you will agree, would be unlikely. It simply wouldn’t work would it.

It would seem that the only other alternative, and therefore the way to go, is for the eagles themselves to begin to realise (amongst themselves) that killing for food, won’t bring them everlasting satisfaction. There is always a downside to killing. It may well stave off hungry days in the immediate term but it isn’t a passport to becoming ‘loved’ in the community – the plethora of life on Earth as we know it. Ultimately, it will leave them frustrated, hated, unhappy and despised, as if they are poachers stealing from their own employers.

So, the thrust for change needs to come from within estate agency itself. Those agents that want to become truly respected and accepted professionally, must themselves change and primarily help and serve each individual client, instead of playing the stakes by putting their own potential profits first and foremost – as an average or bog-standard eagle might.

That’s a difficult thing for any predatory form of life to start doing of course, let alone the average estate agent. For this reason we suggest ‘society’ needs to help them to achieve this by being more mindful and aware about agents’ concerns and their worries for their own survival. We need to teach them not to kill but to improve their own behaviour, ultimately changing their whole mode of operation, or lifestyle. To do this we should support them in the process of getting a new and better life which they can only achieve by helping each individual client of theirs to succeed in their individual quest to move house.

Things would really start flying in the housing market if that happened. For all those who understand this new way, lets bring it on and let the good times roll.

How can this be quickly achieved? Estate agents simply need to look at adopting new and better methods of doing their clients’ market appraisals more accurately. Those who want to find out exactly how to do this, please go to the Property Match (UK) web site or read this blog for an overview.

Instead, right now, a widening gap is opening up between those who can afford houses and those who can’t. Do we think the coalition government has a mandate to remedy this? You bet.

One has to question the wisdom of any government that will allow such confusion to occur in the housing market in modern society on their watch, especially when the growth generated by a smoother running housing market could make all the difference between economic success and failure for the very government concerned. Surely, there can be no excuses behind which they can successfully hide for long enough not to be called to account on this?

Property Match (UK) – Pioneering ways of improving house marketing, for the whole country.

Posted by: Peter Hendry, Consultant in Housing Valuation

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