Jun 272014

The main point to raise is that calming the housing market is not just a question of doing accountancy tweaks.
It’s how the market is managed that needs the tweak.

There’s a problem with the estate agent instruction-gathering machinery.

The thing is, agents are all too willing to scoop up new instructions in competition with each other, irrespective of whether the client wishes to ask too high a price for the property being sold in the prevailing market, taking account of relevant locational considerations. This is a continuously inflationary approach which has been built into the housing market for decades but need serious revision.

The problem is, there’s a cost for having too many over-priced houses on an agent’s books and this has to be spread across all the other vendor clients. That’s because of the no sale - no fee method of charging which is used. In addition, the cost of maintaining this extra sales data on the various portals does add up and is cumulative. This fundamental problem is not dealt with by tweaking the accountancy of the housing market.

It has been noted in recent media coverage that it’s the successful sellers, the ones who price their properties realistically, that are subsidising the cost of all the unsuccessful sellers, whose properties are overpriced and languish on the market for weeks at a time! Also a significant number of these vendors eventually give up altogether causing even further financial loss to the agents, as well as feeling they have had a poor service from them!

Agents should ask themselves, how many vendors would be happy to keep their property on the online portals for weeks on end if they were the ones whom had to pay for the cost up front, whilst knowingly trying to achieve an unrealistic price for their property as compared with everyone else.

What’s even worse is the practice amongst estate agents of competing with each other by chasing each prospective buyer to the extent of hounding them to make a decision to buy what ‘their particular client’ is selling before it is too late. This is basic arm-twisting and is patently bad practice, especially when the house in question either stays on the market or comes back to the market rather quickly afterwards.

Though agents appear to be trying to help the buyer, really they are trying to effect a sale on behalf of the vendor. This is the biggest turn-off for buyers as it effectively destroys any trust between buyers and estate agents and is therefore seriously counter-productive. This whole model of how best to serve buyers, whilst acting on behalf of sellers needs urgent and fundamental revision.

The Bank of England FPC’s latest proposals to re-unite the two-pace housing market are unlikely to achieve that objective.

Forgetting interest rate rises and MMR restrictions for a moment, the situation described above clearly points to the need for a complete revamp in estate agents’ core practices? If that happened we would all begin to see a new, better and more vibrant housing market in this country.

The definitive way for estate agents to achieve such a game-changing move is fully explained in our earlier article written by a retired estate agent having many years experience in the sector.

Is the government of the day likely to be doing anything much about any of these issues any time soon? “I fink-nottle!” he says.

The views of firms or individual estate agents themselves are sought for moderation and online discussion here please?

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Earlier article produced and updated: Full details of our proposals.

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