Then there is the question of whether you want to negotiate. Each firm and agent is different, and they may not be open to negotiation. However, in my view it is worth a try. One idea could be to offer a sliding scale of fees; where the percentage they get is reduced in line with price reductions.
If you are looking for an estate agent, although fees are of course a big factor, try to think about the process in the round. Yes of course you want someone who can negotiate a good deal, but will they be able to keep it together after an offer has been accepted?
There is a real skill in managing the process, knowing when to put pressure on, when to take it off. It all matters. Keeping momentum and everyone on side, particularly in a slower market is tricky.
On the flipside, if you are a buyer my main piece of advice is there is more said in what is left out of a property description than what is. For example, if it has a south facing garden the listing will say “south facing garden”. If it just says garden, then it is not south facing.
That said, I wouldn’t be put off by a property online with only a few photos. I think agents can over photograph properties. You have to leave some room for intrigue.
Rather than have 43 pictures of a house that you look at and go, “No the downstairs bathroom isn’t right, I won’t bother going to look at it”. A better sales strategy is to have six pictures of amazing rooms so potential buyers say, “I think it’s worth taking a look at”. Getting people through the door is key.
And try not to penalise estate agents too much for being salespeople. When they say, “We have a brilliant property, loads of interest”, and it’s been on the market for three months, clearly it’s not an instant hit or else it would have been sold. However, firstly it doesn’t mean that it isn’t the right house for you. And secondly, they are trained to point out the benefits.
When you say “I’m not so sure about the size of the second bedroom”, they will come up with a flipside. Although they are not allowed to give you the impression that it is a competitive situation if it isn’t. They can’t lie about other people wanting to put in a higher offer.
But it is up to you to ask questions, as a buyer the more the better. Remember that they’re not providing you with the service, you aren’t their client, they are working for the sellers. A trick that I’ve used in the past is asking different people at the agency the same question. It is a good route to finding out what is really going on.
When you go on viewing ask why the owners are selling. Then maybe you go into the estate agent’s office or call the reception and speak to someone else, ask them the same question.
You may have been told originally that the wife has a new job so they’re moving. This could be the case. But what if someone else tells you it’s due to nightmare neighbours. Always ask questions, to everyone. You never know what you will find out.
As ever, do email me with your thoughts and questions: firstname.lastname@example.org