Reading Between The Lines

Steve Cook at Clarke Gammon Wellers looks at press reporting on the current property market and finds that there is more going on than the papers would have us believe.

The press always have lots to say about the property market. But let’s take a look at what they aren’t saying.

The press are not saying that there is some good market activity, but that it is a very price sensitive buyers’ market. They may be saying that prices are falling. But they are not saying that some of those asking prices overshot the buoyant market of several years ago and have been left high and dry by the pre-Brexit world that we live in at present. Prices haven’t come down as much in many areas as expectations became too high.

The press may tell us that fewer people are moving around the country. That could be true but what the media are not saying is that more people seem to be on the move within their own local communities.

So what does this all mean for sellers today? It means that if the pricing is right the property will sell. But it means that sales may well end up in a chain of interdependent local sales. Is this necessarily a bad thing? No. It is how things were done before lenders got overly picky and the only buyers for a few years were the ones with cash. We do not live in that world any longer.

Now property sales depend more than ever on the skill of an estate agent to price correctly. Also the best agents know their local area intimately. They will know who wants to move and where they want to move to. They will have the talent to tie together all the strands and layers of a multi-home transaction and orchestrate a successful outcome.

So if you are thinking of selling in the next few months here are three very important questions you might like to ask an estate agent you’re thinking of hiring to help you with the sale:

I am prepared to take good advice about the value of my property. But why do you think that the price you have suggested is the right one? If an agent can’t demonstrate to you how they have arrived at this figure, how on earth can they be expected to convince a buyer?

How long have you personally worked in the local area? One or two years is not very long. Four or five is better and ten plus is really good because then they will have experienced a full market cycle, and also will know everyone in the area.

Tell me about your office back up? If they don’t have one then better steer clear. If they are a one-man-band and are out talking to sellers all day, who is speaking to the buyers? What happens when they are on holiday or are ill? Who is dealing with solicitors, surveyors, valuers, and lenders? Some firms may be cheap but it is for a reason.

How do you charge? Is it fee - no sale or no sale - no fee? Some companies nowadays simply charge an up-front fee to put a property on the internet but thereafter have no commercial interest in the outcome. On the other hand estate agents market property first and only charge a fee on a successful sale - so they remain fully invested in the transaction until completion. There is a big difference.

Above all, remember that selling houses isn’t about getting over the start line it is about getting over the finishing line.