Simon Barnes looks at property portals, dedicated agents and why you need to get expert property advice when selling your most costly asset
Commission is a dirty word among vendors trying to sell their homes, it sparks grumbling resentment, while legal fees and conveyancing costs get paid without a quibble from the seller.
The rise of the online property portal appeals to vendors because it appears a cheaper option. However, in my opinion, the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is never more apt than when it comes to choosing an online property agency over a dedicated agent and dare I say someone who picks up the phone and engages directly with their client.
It seems foolish to me that anyone would entrust their greatest most costly asset to a faceless digital set-up in preference to someone with years of personal industry experience. Loathed by many, a decent estate agent is in reality worth their weight in gold bricks and definitely deserves between 1% and 3% of the commission from any sale.
Your agent has the power to be a deal maker, a mediator and above all an enabler. It is they, who will navigate the problems thrown up during the course of the sale and come up with resourceful solutions, sensible property advice and the wisdom accumulated over years of encountering similar scenarios.
A solid capable agent will be the voice of reason when it comes to managing the egos of both buyer and seller and negotiating the best price achievable in whatever market you are selling. Without an experienced, professional agent the lines of communication, that are essential to progressing a sale, are completely neglected. If you use an online portal, when the momentum falters or the buyer threatens to pull out, you have no come back and absolutely no support, unlike when you retain a ‘real person’ and an agent who can pick up the phone, or meet the parties and get the deal back on course.
Make no mistake the business of house buying and selling is a tricky and sophisticated business, so it really is prudent to retain and pay for the best professional agency you can find. Professional agents will understand planning, talk knowledgeably about market conditions, make property value comparables and explain legal issues like listed building restrictions, covenants and rights of way. Any of which can throw you into confusion, not to mention a potential spanner in the works.
Grumbling about commission is ridiculous, when the price you are paying for expert property advice is so small in comparison with the final net gain – selling your house, banking the money and moving your life on.
A version of this article by Simon Barnes appeared in PrimeResi (subscription required)