Tony Jamieson of Clarke Gammon Wellers explains why having good support when selling or buying a home is so important.

It was two hundred years ago when Napoleon met his Waterloo – at Waterloo.

Meeting one’s own Waterloo comes to all of us from time to time. I can think of many occasions in property when deals have gone sour, buyers have faltered leaving bitter sellers or sellers have changed their minds at the last minute leaving very frustrated buyers. Sometimes mortgages haven’t materialised or for some legal or survey reason the wheels have come off a transaction. Stuff happens.

But sometimes stuff needn’t happen. A well-planned sale or purchase in the hands of an experienced expert has a great deal more chance of success than an ill-planned attempt put in the hands of the inexpert.

For those who don’t move home very often – and that is most of us - the property market can be a confusing place in which to find oneself. There are so many conflicting claims and counter claims and so many differing points of view. It is difficult sometimes to know what to do for the best.

But it is not a good idea to start by doing things on your own with no expert back up. It is also sensible not to start with a cut-price estate agent because mostly all one gets is a cut-price service with a cut-price return. Some sellers who haven’t moved for many years may find lots of different and unfamiliar estate agency names locally and won’t know which to turn to. This is because over the years firms come and go. So it is perhaps best to choose a firm that has not recently come and will not shortly be going. It’s better by far to choose a longer established firm with a strong and enduring reputation and established links with the local community. These are the ones with staying power and for one reason – they are good at getting people moved.

But don’t confuse long established with dated. Today all estate agents are online estate agents. They have to be online, it is the ways things are now. But those who simply call themselves ‘online’ are often merely internet-only firms. The fuller-service firm brings a lot more to the party, which is why the cost can be higher. But the rewards can be much greater.

It is tempting to be cynical about the property industry. But it would be better to resist that urge. Oscar Wilde described a cynic as 'a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing’. It is easy to save a few pounds here and there on service but it could cost thousands and even tens of thousands in the long run – I’ve seen that happen too.