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The Estate Agent

By LayStar Magazine
10th February, 2011

Following the Mary Portas Secret Shopper series on Channel 4, it is clear that she has unfrozen the current thinking in customer services and challenged the rhetoric of the high street shops that claim they deliver great customer care.

In particular, the programme shown on the 9th February on Estate Agents depicted and confirmed many people’s belief; that the typical estate agent firm cannot be trusted. In fact, says Mary, 79% of us do not trust estate agents. ‘Smoke and mirrors’, was the phrase she used to describe the selling tactics of one London based firm of estate agents. And, she says, that this one firm is no different from other estate agents across the country. She explained that estate agents’ regard of customers is little more than a piece of poo on the street.

What Mary Portas demonstrated is that many, or perhaps most, estate agents simply do not bother to investigate the properties they are selling. So when a potential buyer asks about such things as the aspect of the property in relation to the sun rise and set, the estate agent representative clearly had no idea. They don’t know basic things like the history of the property and how much effort might have been put into such things as its restoration or its recent expansion and such like. Key selling points that the vendor is keen to show off are often overlooked by the estate agent during a viewing. Local amenities, such as schools and shops, are also an unknown dimension.

Mary explains that buying a house is the most expensive buying decision most of us will ever make. Perhaps the view is cliché, but estate agents get on average £3000 of the seller’s money to sell the property. Yet, the work they actually do is minimalistic and quite often misleading. Yes, undercover cameras captured the fact that the agent knew of certain perceived negative facts and when directly asked by the property viewer they answered, ‘I don’t know’.

The stark reality is that estate agents up and down the country are taking our hard earned money to sell our property and are in fact doing us and our potential buyers a misjustice. The industry is largely unregulated and, as Mary pointed out, estate agents need not be qualified or hold any form of licence to run an agency.

The Secret Shopper series aims to turn around a single chain in whatever industry is being depicted, and bring about a step change in customer care. The hope says Mary, is that other chains will see a marked change in revenues for that firm and will want to follow suit. The result is that we, the consumer, will benefit. It’s a tall order.

One of the questions that Mary has continually asked with some degree of anguish is, ‘why do we put up with it?’ Why indeed? Has it become a Great British trait to simply join a queue and suffer the consequences of poor customer care and pay at the end of the process? Why do we simply accept the way things are done around here?

An estate agent is not needed to sell or buy property. There are many places where you can sell a property yourself and doing it online seems the obvious choice. The Home Information Pack has been abolished now, which makes life easier for the estate agent and for private sellers. If more people were to turn their backs on estate agents, the industry would get more than a Mary Portas wake-up call.

You can advertise your property for free with LayStar Property Advertising Services to attract potential buyers. You are in complete control of your advert, its words and pictures and, as we encourage, you can be totally honest to attract the right potential buyer. Other sites provide a similar service although they may charge either up-front or when the property sells.

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