Tag Archives: estate agents

Modern design furniture with a painted chair and a round mirror. A glass window overlooking a tree outside a house

5 Top Tips to keep your estate agent onside.

The market is buoyant right now. Properties are selling quickly – mostly. If yours isn’t getting much interest from buyers, you may find that your estate agent has stopped calling. Perhaps it seems they are even avoiding your calls. You’re left feeling frustrated and powerless, wondering what on earth you can do when no one wants to view your home.

Communication between you and your agent at this tricky time becomes all the more important.  Without communication, there can be no trust, and without trust, there is no worthwhile relationship.   What can you do to keep the channels of communication open, and keep your agent onside?

Here are my 5 Tips to keep your estate agent onside when they don’t want to speak to you:

  1. Pre-empt any issues by agreeing a communication schedule before you launch your home to the market. This is over and above any calls to arrange viewings, or to give feedback afterwards; this plan outlines your expectations and so your agent has some chance of meeting them. For example, you could ask for a fortnightly call on a Friday, regardless of whether there had been any viewings in between. In this call you could ask them about market conditions and trends, recent sales, viewings on other comparable properties, and updates on any of your recent viewers. With a plan agreed in advance, there are clear expectations and if these are not met, you can refer your agent back to their original agreement.
  2. Share your plans with them: if your agent knows how important your move is, perhaps to be closer to a special relative, to give yourself more financial security, or to realise your long-held dream of living in the country, they will be able to genuinely identify with your aspirations. By taking them into your confidence, you are showing that you trust them, and the resulting enhanced relationship will allow them to do the best possible job of selling your home for you.
  3. Ask for advice: lots of vendors do this, but then they either don’t listen to any suggestions, or else they argue with it. If you genuinely listen and show that you value any input that might improve the level of interest in your property, you will find your agent much more confident about discussing the issues with you.
  4. Keep your communication positive – if your agent feels that they are being told off, or held to account, for a lack of interest in your property, they will be increasingly reluctant to pick up the phone to you. If however, your tone is encouraging, friendly and supportive, they will look forward to speaking to you, and they will be only too happy to have a chat to you, even if there is nothing concrete to report.
  5. Pop into the office, if you live close enough.  Take them cakes, or flowers out of your garden for the office. If they offer to make you a cup of tea, even better. Take the time to really get to know the staff in the office, and you and your house will be at the forefront of their mind when they next receive a suitable enquiry. Agents are just like you and me; they have favourite clients, so make sure you’re one of them.

Keeping your estate agent onside can have a big effect on the interest you receive on your house.  You may be feeling frustrated, but chances are, they are too. Add to that the embarrassment they could be feeling, having told you initially that they were sure your house would sell quickly! A bit of kindness and understanding can go a long way, and reassures your agent that you consider your house sale a team effort.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

A lovely couple contacted me recently for advice. Let’s call them Paul and Claire. They were thinking of selling their cottage in Norfolk, and had just invited the pre-requisite three estate agents round to value their house.

Agent one had valued it at £300,000, which was about the price they had themselves been thinking.  So far, so good.

Agent two turned up, and asked them who which other agents had been round. Wanting to be honest, they told him. He then valued their cottage at £325,000, which they were quite pleased about. If they could get that little bit extra for their house, they could afford something nicer than they had been looking at. Things were getting better.

Agent three turned up, and again asked which other agents had been round, and again, in the spirit of transparency, they told her. She promptly gave them a valuation that nearly made them fall off their chairs: £350,000. Surely it wasn’t worth that much??

That evening, Paul and Claire popped into see a neighbour, who was also planning on selling her house. When they told her the story, she was delighted. Her house was a little bigger, and had a better plot. “I’ll put mine on for £375,000 then”, she remarked, excitedly.

The next morning, Paul and Claire called me.

They were confused by the valuations, and concerned that their cottage simply wasn’t worth that amount. Reluctant to put it on the market at a price that would cause it to stick, but also fearful of giving it away when they could have got more for it, they were utterly bewildered at what to do next.

I explained to them what was going on: simply put, estate agents are running out of properties to sell. This lack of ‘stock’ is causing a huge challenge for the industry. Back in 2007, agents had too many properties, and they just weren’t selling.  Now, they don’t have enough to satisfy demand from buyers. Is this supply/demand imbalance causing asking prices to rise? Yes, of course. But estate agents are playing a significant part in this outcome too.

Whilst agents are competing so fiercely for new properties to sell, they are being compelled into ‘buying boards’; in other words, over-valuing properties just to get the client to sign with them. Now it’s not as disingenuous as it may sound; after all, prices are indeed going up in many parts of the country (not so much in Norfolk perhaps), and buyers, faced with so little choice of properties, will often pay more than they want to in order to secure their next home.  With plenty of sellers willing to chance their arm and put their home on the market for an inflated figure, seduced by agents’ valuations and the tabloid headlines, we are actually all playing a part in this current state of play, with property prices going up, it would seem, daily.

Back to Paul and Claire.

We had a long discussion about the true ‘value’ of their cottage. Not a ‘test the market’ price, but also not a giveaway price either.  What we were aiming to do, was to find the price that the property would sell at in the timeline they wanted.

We looked at precedent: what had sold in the last six months in their area. We also trawled through properties currently on the market, spotting local trends and noting anything that was sticking.   After this exercise, Paul and Claire reluctantly concluded that the original valuation of £300,000 was in fact fair and reasonable. They understandably felt disappointed, having in effect ‘lost’ £50,000, but more confident that their cottage would actually sell, and not stick on the market.

So did they sell?

They certainly did.  For the asking price too. They chose the first agent, had around half a dozen viewings, and accepted an asking price offer inside three weeks. Could they have got more for their house? Perhaps. But perhaps not. Every week, I talk to sellers who have been trying to sell for months, and even years. Paul and Claire weren’t prepared to risk that. They just wanted to be able to afford to move into something bigger, and they achieved that.

Perhaps our obsession with the value of our houses will never go away. But with the amount of data that is now available to us, sellers have a responsibility to make sure that the price we ask is reasonable, and fair. Yes, putting a house on the market at an over-inflated price can occasionally produce a windfall for the seller, but at what cost? Their neighbours will then believe their house is worth more, buyers will then be compelled to ask more for theirs, and so the huge price hikes go on.

Of course, this is the way the free market economy works. The laws of supply and demand create a roller coaster of prices that since the 1970s, has shaped the property market in the UK. But remember, we have a choice. We can choose to accept what we believe is an over-optimistic valuation by an over-eager agent, or we can sit back and consider, “is my house really worth this?”

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

Playing music to put someone in the mood for buying isn’t new.  Retailers use it, hotels and even hairdressers employ background music to influence our behaviour. It can be quite literal: fast music makes us move quicker, and slower tunes help us relax, and browse.  Music can be a very powerful sales tool.

Music can also help us to make an emotional connection.  You only have to catch a few bars of a song you haven’t heard in years and you are instantly transported back to a place and time when it was embedded into your memory.

How do we use music to sell our home to a viewer? 

Firstly, make sure the music fits not just your home, but the person viewing it.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know how important it is to understand your buyer.  If you can determine the most likely person to buy your home, you’ll know the best type of music to play.

Keeping the music choices relatively neutral, but fitting, here are some of my suggestions:

  • First-time buyers – Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars
  • 30-45 year old upsizers – David Gray, Adele, James Blunt
  • 45-60 year old downsizers – Michael Buble, Luther Vandross
  • Retirees – Tony Bennett, Perry Como, Nina Simone

Secondly, make sure the music itself is down-tempo, and played at a discreet and relaxing volume.  You’re trying to put your viewer at ease, not force them to shout!

Next, choose the music to suit the season.  Some songs are naturally more sunny, while some feel cosier for wintry evenings.

Lastly, plan ahead and make sure it doesn’t run out during the viewing.  A CD is usually around an hour long, so put it on repeat, or use an iPod to play it through, perhaps creating a longer playlist.

Music can be your best friend when you’re selling your house. Use it to set the mood, connect with your viewer, and create the perfect browsing atmosphere for your home, and you might just have an offer before the fat lady sings.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

So, you’ve de-cluttered, tidied, finished off those niggling maintenance jobs, and repainted the kitchen. You’re ready to sell!

But what if there are external drawbacks that may deter a sale? The interior of your home aside, external factors are often forgotten about because they aren’t part of ‘the home’, but there are some your buyers may be thinking about. One of the best ways to see through your rose-tinted spectacles is to think like a buyer, and see what might be challenging them…

Surrounding properties – If similar properties are for sale in your area, it is very important to keep an eye on what is going on with these homes. If a buyer is already sold on the area, they’ll be closely studying the photos on Rightmove. How does your front door compare to that of your neighbours’? If yours is looking a bit sorry for itself, and the neighbour’s door has just had a Fired Earth refresh, they’ll be getting the first visit. Keeping up appearances is essential when the competition is so close.

Pricing – While your price may have been perfect when it was put on the market, what if the market has changed? If your house was put on a year ago and hasn’t shifted, prices could have changed. Any of your neighbours’ properties that are newly listed could be much cheaper than yours, making you look oddly expensive. Compare your price with your neighbours’ similar properties, and talk to your estate agent about altering the price to reflect market changes.

Hurdles – A buyer may have fallen in love with your home and be ready to sign on the dotted line, but a massive barrier could stand in their way. As an example, what if your home isn’t going to be ready to move in to on the date that they are requesting? In these instances, be prepared to negotiate. Suggest local temporary housing and storage options to them, which can make an otherwise impossible move highly achievable. Especially useful if your buyers are moving a great distance.

Neighbourhood – Local facilities are often very important to buyers. If your neighbourhood is quite similar to another in your town, buyers might draw a comparison between the two. Why not do the research for them? Look for amenities that buyers will be looking for such as good schools, playgrounds, restaurants and sports grounds. List the locality of these local benefits on your property listing. Why not put together a few brochures about these places too, and leave them in your home for people to look at?

Thinking like buyer can really help you to take account of any external factors that people are considering when looking at your home, and trying to imagine themselves living there. You can then pre-empt, or at least mitigate, and be prepared for any negative feedback you may get from your agent and buyers.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.


I was contacted by a gentleman in York, who was selling his house for the first time in over thirty years. In a small 1920s close where most of the houses there had been redeveloped, his home clearly had huge potential and the local agents were falling over themselves to win the instruction. When he called me he had already had visits from six agents, and was thinking of using five of them, on a ‘winner takes all’ basis. He asked me what I thought. I of course, told him.

Firstly, with that amount of competition between agents, he couldn’t hope to get a sensible valuation. He confirmed this by telling me that the variation in valuations had been huge: £1.3million right up to £1.75million. How on earth could he have any confidence at all in any of them? My first piece of advice to him was to get an independent valuation from a local surveyor. This result doesn’t show in any public records; it’s simply a piece of private information between the two of you, so if he didn’t like the valuation, he could just ignore it.  It would however give him some idea of the ‘true’ value of the home, albeit with a few thousand added on for marketing and negotiation purposes. Don’t forget that a surveyor is completely independent, I reminded him, with no agenda whatsoever other than to give you an accurate representation of the value of your house. For around £300, you will find his report a useful insight, I told him.

Secondly, it’s really not a good idea to ask five agents to sell your home.  Your relationship with the estate agent you select is founded on trust and liking; after all, there will be plenty of obstacles to overcome along the way, and you really need someone on your side throughout this often traumatic process.  Select the agent you like most; the one you really believe in, and that you won’t get irritated by over the coming months.  Place your loyalty and confidence in him, and let him know you have faith in his ability to sell your house.  Trust works both ways, and you need to do all you can to make his job of selling your house as easy as possible.  Aim to be the best vendor you can be, and your efforts will pay dividends.  If you think his valuation is too low, tell him.  Do your own research and show him evidence that supports your viewpoint.  He may well agree with you, especially if he is very keen to win your instruction.

The third point is that all that will happen if you instruct more than one agent, is that your property will appear multiple times on the property portals, which just smacks of desperation.  And don’t even think about the battle over boards: your local authority will only allow you one, so how would you choose which one?  You’d have all five agents sabotaging each other’s boards in the middle of the night!

In the case of selling your home, it really is about putting all your eggs in one basket, then being very careful not to break one!

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

Table with a coffee mug and a plate of strawberries; and a window overlooking a garden outside

We’ve all been there. You know your home is a great catch, you’ve read all the magazines, and you’ve followed all the tips to a T. But it’s still not budging. And to make it worse, Stuart and Lesley’s barn conversion next door was snapped up the first week it hit Rightmove. You’re starting to wonder if you’ll ever see a sold sign hanging out front. So what’s left to do? Instead of following tips to a T, you need to follow them to a P. And that’s three P’s to be precise.

P is for Price

Having the right pricing strategy in place is a great start. Listing for £499,995 seems logical; it looks friendlier sitting just under the big 5, and will position your house as a steal, right? Wrong. Selling a home isn’t easy, but sitting inside as many people’s price brackets as possible is key. The more people that see your home, the more likely it is to sell. A home listed on Rightmove for £500,000 will be included in searches for £500,000-£600,000 as well as £475,000-£500,000. If the same home was priced at £499,995, it would fail to show in the latter bracket. So £5 could be the difference between doubling your potential viewers, and finding the right buyers for your home.

P is for Promotion

Which Rightmove pictures catch your eye? The dimly-lit, awkward looking ones, or the professional lifestyle images? The latter not only look special, they look magazine-worthy, and they tell a story that a buyer wants to be a part of. Now take a read of your house description. Is it something along the lines of: ‘The XYZ Estate Agents are proud to offer this realistically priced, and generously proportioned, detached family home,’? Or maybe it’s littered with lovely generic phrases like, ‘features’, ‘briefly comprising’ and ‘duel-aspect.’ These go-to phrases are simply meaningless, and who drops ‘dual-aspect’ into daily conversation anyway? If the copy isn’t interesting, persuasive and meaningful, your home isn’t going to talk to buyers. And since emotions sell a home, the words and images need to give a warm hello, and a lasting impression, if they are to stand out and be remembered.

P is for Presentation

So you’ve priced the home just right, and the photography and copy have caught people’s attention. Now for the viewings. This is where it gets exciting. Home styling, or how we dress our home ready to impress, is the final hurdle. And without a little help, it’s easy to fall here. Draw your viewers’ eyes to your home’s natural beauty, and show how each room could work for another family is key.

So Price, Promotion and Presentation. Follow these three ‘P’s, and you’ll be passing over the keys in no time. A home is more than just bricks and mortar, to both you and potential buyers; it needs to capture their hearts, as well as their heads.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.


A wicker heart hanging on a door on a way to the bedroom

A wicker heart hanging on a door on a way to the bedroom

A lady called me this week, unable to sell her lovely rural house in Shropshire. I asked her about her agent, and she explained that she was frustrated at having to chase them to find out feedback from viewings, and that when she called it was difficult to get hold of anyone on the phone.

“Have you actually been into the office?” I asked her.

“Oh yes,” she assured me. “It’s the only way I can speak to anyone sometimes!”

I asked her how many key members of staff the agent had; in other words, how many were actually customer-facing and not just administration staff. She was very sure in her answer – three, including the manager.

I checked the agent’s profile online: they currently had 158 properties listed. That equals 53 properties for each negotiator if the manager is included, and a whopping 79 properties each if in fact the manager isn’t involved in viewings and negotiating.

So how many properties can each negotiator look after effectively, making sure they handle their clients’ viewings successfully, keep in contact regularly and generally stay focused on selling their client’s property? Well, I would suggest no more than 25. In an average week, this would allow for around an hour per client, plus time for travel, meetings, putting together brochures, and all the other things that agents do (some of which are a mystery to us all). That’s plenty, I think.  How on earth can they give good service when they are only allocating around half an hour at best, per client per week?!

How many properties does your agent currently have listed on Rightmove? How many actively selling members of staff are there? If you divide the former by the latter and come up with a figure of more than 25, it may be time for a rethink. To sell a house effectively and for the price you want in a difficult market like this, you need attention, focus and dedication from your agent, and he just can’t give you all three in a measly half an hour or less per week.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

Most sellers who call us have had experiences at least as traumatic as this:

On the other hand, with our help, it could look more like this……

So – what’s it to be?

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

Kitchen room with a two-layered pastry bread and a set of mug on top of a table

I called an estate agent today to assess, for my client, the way they handled my request (we do this often at HomeTruths – see Mystery Shopping). I explained that I had seen a property on their online listing and asked if they could send me the brochure.  The lady duly took my contact details and said she’d email me the brochure. Whoa…… I told her that I really needed them sending by post (making up some story about my printer not working). “But you’ve missed tonight’s post!” she protested. I reassured her that an extra day would be fine. She conceded with an embarrassed laugh, promising to put it in the “snail mail”, as she called it.

After putting the phone down, I looked again at the online brochure on my screen, and wondered why she thought I would want this same digital brochure emailing to me? Surely, when a buyer calls and requests a brochure, they would have already been online and what they want is something more?

One last thought: given that the average brochure print run is 50-100, what on earth do these agents do with all the brochures?!

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

A tea cup and kettle, an opened book, glass candle and a mini fruit stand with raspberries on top of a wooden table in a living room.

So many things are marketed as 99p or similar with an attempt to make it look ‘cheap’, when it really isn’t much of a saving. So how does this affect the many common things that ‘use’ the penny as a pricing tool?

When it comes to using the 1p pricing tool in property pricing, it tends to not have a very positive effect. Property pricing is of paramount important these days.  I don’t mean the question of ‘value’ – but instead the art of setting the right price so that the portal searches are optimised.  For example: you have a house to sell worth approximately £1 million. The agent suggests an asking price of £999,999.  ”It’s a psychological price point” they tell you.  I don’t agree.  At all.  I say – market at £1,000,000, and here’s why:

  • £999,999 is a cheap ploy – an ‘Asda’ price.  Your buyers aren’t daft, so don’t treat them as if they are!  Give them some respect and a ‘Harrods’ price.  Make it £1 million straight;
  • £1 million is actually an aspirational price point – your buyers WANT to spend one million pounds on a house, and tell their friends and family that they have done;
  • £1 million is a very confident price – it says “my house is worth a million pounds”  £999,999 is apologetic, humble: it says “make me an offer”;
  • £1 million gets your property shown in more searches.  At £999,999 on Rightmove, your property will only appear in searches up to £1 million.  At £1,000,000 straight, it appears not only in searches up to £1 million, but also those over: potentially doubling traffic to your property advert.

After all, as my Dad would have said, “Look after the pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves”.

Should we scrap the penny? Do you agree that it would have a positive effect for property pricing? Tell us below.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.