I HATE ESTATE AGENTS.
What do they get paid for? They know nothing — and worse, they don’t have any interest in properties either. They do not seem to care about buyers, sellers or even competition. It certainly is a bizarre situation indeed!
When Estate Agents DO advertise they use some weird alien language (for no good reason). Years ago, when newspaper adverts cost money per column inch, per line, per word or even per letter, I could understand the need for abbreviation, but why continue to use this still in expensive printed brochures and on their own web site when there is no longer any cost implication?
- Why do I still find “GCH” for “gas-fired central heating”, “Dbl” for “Double”, “Rm” for “room” and so forth. It really is so irritating!
When they do a write-up of your property, it is simply a waste of time. To illustrate, here’s a simple example found at random five minutes ago and pasted here with my comments on the right:
|xx Estate Agents are delighted to present to the market this ground floor flat with accommodation extending to entrance hallway, spacious bay windowed lounge, dining kitchen, four double bedrooms and bathroom. The property has a door entry system and gas central heating. The property does require some internal upgrading although this has been reflected in the asking price.
||It doesn’t say if the flat has a garden or dry moat to the front, side or back to distance it from the street level — or whether entry is via a common close or a separate front door (or both). It doesn’t say if the flat is an elevated ground floor property, perhaps with a basement flat below. “Door Entry” is usual in all properties (no-one uses the window!), I think the agent means some form of controlled security system in installed.
Entered via timber door. Access to all apartments. Radiator. Storage cupboard.
|“Timber Door”? What kind of timber? Is it painted? Why does this room not have dimensions? Are there power points? What about lighting? Perhaps a phone point? Where are the meters? Are there glass panels above the doors, or is glass incorporated into the doors? Is the security entry phone/buzzer located in the hall? Are there porch doors? Is access from the common close corridor or from a separate door way? What features – dado, picture
rail, original cornice, skirting, flooring, décor etc? How big is the storage?
|Lounge 22’4″ x 15′
Impressive sized lounge with bay window to front. Fitted carpet. Fireplace.
Is the length dimension into the bay? Features are not described – is it an original fireplace? is it a working chimney and hearth? Is there a gas supply, what about skirtings, cornices and picture rails? Is there a centre light or wall lights? How many windows in the bay? Are they original sash weighted cord windows with original brass rails, roller blinds, curtains, pelmets etc.? Is the room sunny? décor? Is there a TV point, cable TV point, power points, and so forth. No radiator is
|Dining kitchen 12’2″ (3.7m) x 18’1″ (5.51m) (into recess):
Large dining kitchen fitted with a range of wall and floor standing storage units. Window to rear. Radiator. Wall mounted boiler.
Is the boiler gas-fired? A Combi? Is the radiator a double panel or single panel – does it have a thermostatic radiator valve. How is the boiler operated? Thermostat? Does it provide hot water or is there a cylinder? Is there plumbing (and space) for washing machine, dish washer, waste disposal unit, sink and drainer? What about an extractor hood or venting for a tumble dryer? Is there gas? hob or cooker? What flooring? How many units? Power points? TV points? Lighting? décor? Does the sun
|Bedroom one 18’1″ x 12’10”:
Master bedroom with window to front. Fitted carpet.
What size – twin? double? Is room a sunny aspect? Original features, TV point, power points, where is radiator? Wardrobing?
|Bedroom two 15′ x 11’7″.
Second double bedroom with window to rear. Radiator. Small book press.
Is room a sunny aspect? Original features, TV point, power points, where is radiator? Wardrobing? No carpet?
|Bedroom three 18’1″ x 9’11”:
Good sized bedroom with window to front. Radiator.
What size – twin? double? Is room a sunny aspect? Original features, TV point, power points, where is radiator? Wardrobing? Carpet?
|Bedroom four 15’1″ x 12′:Double bedroom with window to rear. Fitted carpet. Radiator.
Is room a sunny aspect? Original features, TV point, power points, where is radiator? Wardrobing?
|Bathroom: Fully tiled bathroom with three piece suite of wc, wash hand basin and corner bath with mixer tap shower. Timber ceiling. Linoleum flooring. Opaque window to rear.
||Why does this room not have dimensions? what colour of suite? Is there room for bidet? Is Timber ceiling a lowered suspended ceiling? What height? Any information on tiles?
|N.B Your attention is drawn to the fact that we have been unable to confirm whether certain items included within the property are in full working order. Any prospective purchasers must accept that the property is offered for sale on this basis.
xx Estate Agents make no warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of these details.XXX are delighted to bring to the market a seldom available property which can be sold with vacant possession.
|Why not — why does the agent not know how old the heating is or when the boiler was last serviced? This is a crap disclaimer!
Admittedly, this is not the weirdest example (I have seen worse, much worse), but it serves to make the point that it is as though they did not visit the property themselves — there is almost no information upon which to base a judgement to view. There is no persuasion to potential buyers; the language is stiff and unfriendly when it should be enticing and positively attractive. A child could do better, and would charge a lot less.
Years ago I suggested that Estate Agents ought to provide a floor plan, photographs and some information about the local area’s amenities — and I was told (rather tersely) that the “trick” is to give out no more than the barest minimum information to entice buyers to view!
Something must have changed, for I see plans and pictures everywhere! However, on the descriptions and facts there remains a lot that could be done.
In every market in the world, especially in the east, people ask how much something is. The seller says “100”, the buyer says it is too much as offers “70”, the seller says this is too low and drops the asking price to “80”, meeting the buyer halfway. the buyer accepts, and the item is sold. this is bartering — it is trade at it’s most bald and basic. Simple and beautiful, mano-a-mano, eye-to-eye bargaining.
This has gained popularity in the west — in the UK and USA — the seller has the item priced, if it is “100”, then you have to pay “100”. If you do not want to pay “100” you have to wait until there is a clearance sale. The reason it has gained popularity is that it allows scanning, faster shopping and a more standardised system. Many people have grown to prefer the impersonal approach to bartering, which is deemed low-class. These shoppers seem to need to know the full ticket price so that they can feel they are getting a better deal when the item is reduced in a sale.
Auctions work in the opposite way from haggling; an item is offered for sale, and receives an opening bid from a potential buyer — but another potential buyer offers more, and this continues until one potential buyer drops out.
The Blind /Scottish Auction
However, in Scotland, buying property is unique in that it is different from both auctions and bartering. Sometimes a house will be offered at a “Fixed Price”, in which case the first offer of this ticket price is a sale. However, the overwhelming majority of conveyancing in Scotland is “blind auction” — you’re bidding against others, but you have no idea what their bids are! It’s a bit like this: you ask how much the house is, the sellers says “offers over 100”, and you offer “200” hoping that everyone else offers less! Everyone’s bid are opened at a set time on a set date, and the highest offer is usually accepted.
This makes Scottish Estate Agents even less certain about anything than any other estate agent. They cannot provide guidance on how much over to offer, on the state of the market and so forth. They are the ones who decide what the “offers over price” will be — they make it very low to attract people to view — because a lot of viewings shows the seller (who is paying them) that they are doing something — but it is all a huge waste of everyone’s time. The details are sketchy (as illustrated above), so potential buyers really only have the price as the main guide — and yet it is useless!
On the internet, you can type in a maximum and minimum price — but it is hopeless for Scottish properties as the offers-over price is neither a minimum nor maximum! Buyers have to guess that houses in a certain area are going for 20% over, and input the estimates before thay can even get a list of properties within their real price-range that would be worth visiting!
In the country of “England & Wales” sellers will very soon have to supply each potential buyer with a House Information Pack. This is not a bad idea, really. They have a sensible way of selling to start with — the asking price is always high and people offer below (but close). It is unfortunate that there is “Gazumping” and “Chains” — they could benefit from tightening up the missives closure. The HIP should contain a survey, but this was removed by the government at the last minute.
- Even though an HIP might be a good idea, the implementation will be a fiasco because of the rushed time-scale.
I would suggest that in Scotland as well as England & Wales, there should be a radical change in house buying. The system we have is changing, but not fast enough to cope with the amazing surge in home-ownership in the UK since the 1960s.
Estate Agents should be made to earn their fees — they ought to deal with surveys and HIPs, and have a duty to act as agents for the seller in that they must know about the property they are selling and are able to answer routine questions about it.
- Estate Agents should be regulated, made to work for a living, and made to provide value for money!