There’s a reason why estate agents are often touted as one of the least-trusted professions.
Research firm Ipsos Mori once ran a survey that found estate agents were the UK’s joint 4th least trusted profession.
Just 27% of those surveyed said they trusted estate agents to tell the truth.
So, why is it that people put so little faith in the people entrusted with selling their homes?
It’s not an easy one to answer. Over the years, estate agents have received a bad name for all manner of reasons.
From overcharging for the service they provide through to telling lies to secure a sale, everyone has their theories as to why the public loathe them so much.
But one possible reason is that they tend to only tell you what they HAVE to tell you. And that means some important things may never be mentioned.
That brings us neatly to why we wrote this article in the first place…
Drawing on our experience, we present to you three things your estate agent won’t tell you:
1) You’re Overpaying For A ‘No Sale, No Fee’ Service
Did you think that selling on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis was a ‘no-brainer’ and completely free of downsides?
It’s an easy mistake to make. On the face of it, you only have to pay if you successfully sell your home, so it looks like a good deal.
All of the risk is shifted to the estate agent. What’s not to like?
Well, how about the fact that in order to calculate the price to charge you, estate agents have to take into account all of the properties they fail to sell?
Think about it. If they only sell one in every three properties they list, they need to ensure that the profit they make covers the costs of all three properties.
That means, when you choose to only pay on completion, what you gain in minimising your risk, you lose in paying to cover the costs of people whose properties didn’t sell.
And it HAS to work like this, otherwise, the estate agent would go out of business.
Need more evidence? Consider some of the main online estate agents and how much more you pay for their ‘no sale, no fee’ option.
With Yopa, you can expect to pay around 225% more for their no sale, no fee option against their upfront fee option. With SellMyHome, it’s around 118%.
And that’s just online agents; high street estate agents are even worse.
They don’t tend to even off an up-front option. That means you are forced into paying for the costs of the homes that don’t sell.
Plus, they’ll usually charge you even more than the online estate agents for the privilege.
So, as you can see, ‘no sale, no fee’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
That said, it doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. Just that you have to be willing to accept paying a premium in return for the reduced risk it offers.
When we sold one of our homes, we decided to take the no sale, no option. We knew that our house might not be easy to sell, due to its unconventional layout that didn’t suit many people. When we bought the house it had been on and off the market for several years.
This meant we weren’t sure if we would be able to sell the house for the amount we would have needed to move to the kind of property we wanted to move to.
In this situation, we thought it was worth paying a higher price to ensure we didn’t have to pay anything in case the house didn’t sell.
It’s a decision that everyone has to make for themselves depending on their circumstances. The market conditions can also have an influence.
In our opinion, if you have a slow market with weak demand, such as we have seen in 2023, then it could be worth opting for the no sale, no fee option. This will reduce your risk of having to pay even if your home doesn’t sell.
On the other hand, in a booming market, such as when we came out of the pandemic in 2021/22, we wouldn’t recommend using this option. In a market like this, the chances of you selling your home are fairly high, so it’s not worth spending the extra money.
2) They Don’t Know How To Write A Good Property Description
Estate agents are not marketers. Sure, they may offer ‘marketing’ packages for selling your property, but they’re not marketers in the true sense of the word.
They usually know very little about the theory of marketing or how psychology plays its role in the decision-making process. I have studied marketing and have been working in this sector for the past 20 years, so know what I am talking about.
Simply put, most estate agents are there to do the admin work that’s needed to sell a property, not the actual selling.
And that translates to poor, ineffective property descriptions.
Think about it: when was the last time you read a property description and your heart skipped a beat as you realised you might have just found the home for you?
That’s because the vast majority of estate agents write dull, uninteresting property descriptions. Why? Because that’s what everyone else does.
There’s a real herd mentality, no one is thinking for themselves. Worse still, no-one is actually TESTING what works or trying different methods.
Yet marketers do test. Marketers understand how emotion sells a product. Marketers know not to simply do as everyone else does.
That’s why, when you need a property description writing you should turn to a marketer, NOT an estate agent. I have written the description of a property we sold. Although it took me all my persuasion skills to make the estate agent agree to it.
But once it was live, and he looked at the statistics, he had to agree that my text was much more successful than any of the ones he has written. So it’s definitely worth it to get your property description written by someone who knows what they are doing.
If you don’t have a marketer friend you can rope in, or your budget doesn’t stretch to hire one, write it yourself. It’s not as difficult as it might sound. We wrote a detailed post on writing property descriptions here.
3) You’re Better Off Conducting Your Own Viewings
When someone comes to view your property, you only have one opportunity to impress them.
If you miss the chance, you’re left waiting for the next appointment, hoping it will be different.
Think that your estate agent has your back here and knows what they are doing?
Sorry, think again.
The vast majority of estate agents are terrible at selling properties.
It’s a lost art. Agents have become lazy and think that properties sell themselves. They don’t, at least, not entirely.
If you don’t believe us, we have proof. Check out this video that backs up our point perfectly.
In the vast majority of cases, we’d bet that most homeowners could do a better job at conducting viewings and selling their home than the estate agent they are paying thousands to.
All that is required is a basic understanding of how people’s minds work when making a decision to buy something.
We have conducted numerous viewings of the houses we have sold over the years. We took the decision after we sold our first home. The viewings were split between the estate agent and ourselves, as we did the ones during out-of-office hours.
Almost all of the prospective buyers we showed around led to further interest. Either by requesting a second viewing or by making offers, two of which were asking price offers.
The viewings done by the estate agent on the contrary didn’t yield any further interest at all. This was all the proof we needed: we can sell our home better than an estate agent.
We believe that’s because estate agents sell a house, while we sell a home. We can show people what it’s like to live in our house. Something an estate agent won’t do, because this would need some effort.
We would recommend to any seller to conduct their own viewings. Not sure if you could do it? Find out how easy it is in our article on how to conduct your own house viewings.
Why Estate Agents Get Away With It
We’ve highlighted three key things your estate agent won’t tell you (but really should). But the bigger question is why are estate agents even getting away with this?
They charge massive amounts of money, often in the thousands of pounds, and can’t even get some of the basics right.
Well, being a good estate agent is still a highly skilled job. It’s just that there aren’t many of them left.
The rise of portals such as Rightmove has made it so easy for estate agents to find prospective buyers that they have stopped having to understand marketing.
But the biggest reason why they have got away with it is that they have never been challenged on it. And that’s worrying. Really worrying.