Is there any point to estate agents?

Since taking our house off the market recently, I’ve been wondering what exactly it is that estate agents do. Maybe they:

  • Arrange a HIP: ignoring the fact that HIPs are a completely pointless waste of time and money, I got mine sent to the agent in the first place.
  • Market my house: we had one advert in the paper, and I think describing the leaflets as brochures is pushing it a bit. There is Rightmove, but I prefer alternatives like ononemap myself.
  • Find me a buyer: I’m pretty sure I could have found a buyer last year on my own, but now the market is on hold none of the estate agents seem to be having much luck finding them.
  • Communicate: it’s a long process and regular updates and clear communications are essential… I’m just not sure they manage it.

When the market has settled/sunk to rock bottom, we’ll be putting the house up for sale again (hopefully before the pointless HIP has expired and they have to make up the same rubbish again). Despite my doubts, I expect we will probably use an estate agent again: it was very useful to have them doing all the viewings, and while I might not think Rightmove is the best site in the world, a lot of people do use it. (If only I could add my own house.)

It will be tricky choosing a new agent though, mainly because most of them seem fairly hopeless. For example, one agent, who we were already registered with, sent a compliment slip asking us to call quoting reference ML1, yet didn’t seem to really know what ML1 meant when I phoned. They’ve been sending the same slip ever since… sometimes twice a day! We’ve got quite a collection now:

We get the message!

Another agent, who originally wildly over estimated the value of our house, phoned randomly to gloat about how many viewings he had for an almost identical house. Viewings don’t always mean sales though and it still hasn’t sold! Frustratingly, one of the best agents, who we found while looking for houses to buy, doesn’t sell houses in our area. Bother.

Still, the way the market’s going we won’t need a new estate agent for a while, and there could be less of them left to choose by then.

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12 thoughts on “Is there any point to estate agents?

  1. Ah yes – it seems that Enfields have finally stopped sending me those twice a week! Interesting, I thought the ML1 was something to do with my road specifically – ML are some of the intials for the road name.. but clearly not.

    The point of estate agents, much like conveyancers is ‘do as little as possible for as much profit as possible’. The only other thing is as a very deserving target for insults..

  2. I thought they’d stopped sending them but we got another couple to add to the collection the other day.

    Definitely want to look for alternatives to the traditional estate agent options before putting our house back on the market. I do wonder if something other than a percentage commission might be a better way to get estate agents working harder for you- maybe a small flat fee with a big bonus for achieving some target price… or something. At the moment it’s better for them to shift houses quickly rather than hold out for what is only a tiny increase in commission for a higher price.

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  5. You realise why you can’t add your own house to Rightmove, right? It’s an arm of the estate agent cartel, aimed as a land-grab in online property searching to make it harder for an independent non-estate-agent site to gain traction. Sadly it seems to have achieved its aim rather well.

  6. Heh, it certainly stalled other property search sites but I think things are changing. There are obviously others but Globrix seems like a good contender, and news of google property search coming to the UK is excellent.

    Interestingly, if our estate agent is to be believed, the last time we had the house on the market, not one viewing came via Rightmove! Seems incredible but if it’s true, and depending on which property search sites show results from Tepilo, Rightmove may not be the problem it once was.

  7. I share the same views and have done so for many years, hence to say that is why I always sell my own properties privately. Of which I have sold 3 and rented out a further 4 flats (pension fund). Those that I sold I have never had to pay commission for the pleasure of someone acting on behalf of myself, and that includes advertising of the flats for tenants, I just don’t seem to get the point of Estate Agents, they are literally money for old rope!
    There are many websites on the net that allow you to promote your property for sale, the one I use is View-Me.com

  8. I have been going through the same problems with agents. For a house valued at 250k they want a whopping 5k! For what exactly? Its for advertising on Rightmove and other online sites, print publications etc and for viewings – nothing more. So I have now found a few online agents who will take a fraction of this to list on Rightmove but they won’t do viewings. If you can organise your own viewings then it should be easy. http://www.thelittlehousecompany.co.uk/ and http://www.hatched.co.uk/ are two online agents that I’m considering.

  9. Thanks for the link Ken, and it’s good to hear from someone who’s been so successful selling privately.
    I have to say, given the choice between running a competition and dealing with estate agents, I’d pick the latter! Ours is a slightly smaller/easier to value house though. Good luck Maxine.
    I had been thinking of trying online agents in combination with a local agent and Tepilo next time we sell, so thanks for those suggestions @swamysk. After trying both ways I also think I prefer doing viewings myself anyway- it seemed to work better and I preferred to be able to talk to owners when we were looking round houses.
    By complete coincidence an estate agent phoned today to see if we were interested in moving. It’s like they knew we were talking about them!!

  10. I have been on other fora, where estate agents have been complaining about the price of rightmove….it’s brilliant! Finally after 50 years os basically charging a fortune for taking photos and putting them in the window of a shop and then every now and again letting someone into your house and ,making an arse of themselves by not knowing what they are talking about a medium has basically cut them out of the market because finally you dont need someone who doesnt do anything. Estate agents are some of the most soul-less and utterly pointless people on the planet who, have virtually no skill or interest other than being variably good at lying (some are even terrible at this).

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