Estate agent tricks & how to avoid them
We must start this article by saying that there are a lot of genuine estate agents out there that will do a sterling job in selling your home, to the best of their ability. That being said, although many are honest professionals it’s unfortunately not true of all of them and you shouldn’t always assume that estate agents are acting in your best interest.
There are quite a few tricks of the trade that estate agents use in order to keep their property portfolio moving and the commission rolling in. We’ve detailed a few from a seller and buyer’s perspective to try and help you avoid falling victim to them:
Estate agent tricks – sellers
If you’re looking to sell your home through a traditional method such as using an estate agent then here are a few of the things that you should be wary of:
Initially overprice house valuations
To get you on board, the contract signed & commission in sight, a lot of estate agents may provide you with a higher valuation of your home than you expect.
This is likely to get you in a pretty good mood, to the point you’ll be feeling pretty optimistic about the sale and signing up with the estate agent.
Low and behold, a few weeks pass & the estate agent is telling you that there is no interest in your property and you should drop the price, negating the original reason you actually signed up to them in the first place!
It’s a frustrating tactic because it can also make you look like you are desperate to sell by reducing your asking price on property portals.
If the price is right initially you should get interested pretty quickly when it’s first uploaded as that will trigger people’s property portal email alerts.
Don’t let them know your bottom line!
Never tell your estate agent what the lowest offer you can accept is, chances are they will tell or at least indicate to potential interested buyers what you will accept.
You might think, no they won’t, they’re paid a percentage commission on the overall sale price.
Using the example of an estate agent getting a 1.5% commission & a property market value of £100K, if it sold for the full value then they would be in for £1,500 commission, however if you’re minimum is £90,000 they would be in for £1,350.
That’s only £150 difference to them, which would easily be taken up by the time taken for another viewing or two, not to mention the marketing, so why wouldn’t they want to just get it done and dusted at the lowest price?
Not putting in enough effort & fake property viewings
Often, you’ll find that estate agents just list the property on the large property portals & that’s it, they never tweak the listing, make any changes, suggest new photos or give it any extra push through their own email marketing.
Once you put the squeeze on them you may find that you suddenly get a few viewings, be careful because these could either be people they were previously vetting as window shoppers or even family or friends of the estate agents themselves just to make it appear like they are doing a better job.
Charging additional fees for extra marketing
EPC, featured or premium listings, and enhanced marketing packages are just a few of the things that the estate agent may want to try and sell you as additional extras.
Realistically the estate agent should be incentivised to sell your house as quickly as possible, which may mean they see fit to spend a bit more on a premium listing.
Make sure you know exactly what you are getting before signing up with an estate agent, ask questions about what they’ll do to market your property, what additional costs can you expect if you aren’t getting viewings, and stay informed.
Pushing in mortgage to brokers or conveyancers
Almost all estate agents do this, they have an in-house mortgage broker or a conveyancer that they would recommend, and by all means, listen to them! Sometimes the easy option is the best option, but make sure you compare the quotes to others.
The estate agency isn’t doing this for nothing, somewhere along the line they will get a bit of a kickback from affiliations they push.
Estate agent tricks – potential buyers
Looking to buy a home? It’s not always the case, but chances are you will usually have to deal with an estate agent showing you around the property. Here are some of the things that you should be aware of before viewing:
If you’ve had experience viewing properties then chances are you’ve come across this before. Interested in the property?
You might be thinking of placing a bid. When trying to get a feel for how much you should bid, you’ll often find that the estate agent has had previous bids on the property of “x” amount, this might often just be a tactic to make you bid a bit higher and allow them to get a bit more commission, try bid under that and see what they say!
The other form of “phantom offer” that can happen is when you’ve had an offer accepted, a few weeks pass, you’ve instructed your solicitors and you get a call saying there’s been a higher bid on the property.
The majority of the time this can be genuine and is called Gazumping, but sometimes this could be made up by the estate agent or more likely who they are acting on behalf of to get a bit more out of the sale.
There isn’t too much you can do about this, other than try to call their bluff or just bite the bullet and search again.
Wide lens photos
You can’t particularly blame them for this, but the professional pictures taken of homes are often with a wide lens.
This means that the picture often makes the room look much bigger than it is, which is always something to be aware of when deciding which houses you want to physically view.
Make sure you look and compare floor plans to get a better idea of the actual size of certain rooms.
Smoke & mirrors on listings
Sometimes listings don’t tell the full truth and can often be quite exaggerated, purposely or not. Something they consider “top of the range”, might not match your views on it.
If a listing seems purposely vague and doesn’t detail specifics then take it with a pinch of salt until you’ve seen the property!
Have a look around the photos, are some of the details of the listing evident in the photos? If it’s a selling point, then they would want to take pictures of it.
Booking viewings close together
Another trick to make you think the property is sought after and rush into putting a bid in is by arranging a viewing close together, you may find as you are leaving a property viewing another prospective buyer shows up, a common tactic. Don’t be rushed into bidding on something, take your time.
Pushing in house mortgage brokers or conveyancer
Exactly the same for the seller’s point of view, the estate agent might try and push you towards their own in-house mortgage broker or conveyancer. It’s worth listening to them, but make sure you get quotes from elsewhere, the estate agent will always try and push you to this as they are often getting an additional commission for doing so.
How To Steer Clear of Tricks
Now you’re aware of some of the tricks that estate agents can pull, but how do you avoid them?
Do your own research
Look into the local market on comparable properties and check their sold prices. There are a lot of resources out there to find a variety of different information on average sale prices, sale times & more, right down to specific postcodes.
Don’t reveal your maximum or minimum price
Keep hush to the estate agent as to the lowest price you can accept or the highest price you can bid. If you tell them, of course, they are going to work to that figure.
Incentivise the agent to get the best price possible
A good way of doing this is offering a sliding scale of commission as a seller, working to a higher percentage if they achieve a higher market value, and lower if they get a lower offer.
Don’t be pressured to use services associated with the estate agent
Listen to what they have to offer but get other quote comparisons, there are a lot of comparison services out there that should give you an idea of how much you should pay for conveyancers and what rate mortgage you can acquire.
Should you consider an alternative to the traditional?
We offer a service that is different to a traditional sale, we can buy your house for cash in as little as 7 days, no stress, no hassle and no having to deal with estate agents. It’s not a service for everyone, but we do offer a free valuation over the phone to give you an idea of what we will be able to offer on your property, so it’ can’t hurt right.
Our quote process is simple, just enter your postcode, answer a few questions about your property, then we’ll get in touch with to talk through the property and talk through a ballpark figure.
Benefits of our service vs the open market
There are several benefits to using our service that you won’t experience in going through the open market, which include:
No solicitors’ fees – we cover all the costs
You can sell in as little as 7 days, which is very unlikely on the open market
You will save a significant amount on utility bills, council tax, house repayments and more over the typical duration an open market sale would take
There’s no estate agent fees to pay
We handle everything for you, there’s very little work for you to do!