Agent almost blows gasket! Or, the Art of Sales Progressing.

Last week we just avoided blowing a gasket (with some deep breathing!), following yet another pointless call to an estate agent involved in a chain of sales with us. Afterwards, I thought it’s time to open the Pandora’s Box of ‘Sales chasing’.  No one wants to be the victim of negligent ‘Sales Progressing’. We estate agents need to do our job properly, communicate with clients and associated professionals and avoid sales falling through, with frustrated sellers and buyers.  It's a full-time job!!

You’ve all heard comments about estate agents’ fees: ‘money for old rope’, ‘they do nothing to earn their fee’, ‘I can’t believe how much they charge’. When I hear some of the back stories to these comments, I have to agree. Unfortunately too many estate agents over-promise and under-perform. Why and how do they do it and how do they get away with it?

Through no fault of your pro-active estate agent, your sale can fall apart, thanks to the inaction of a negotiator at another firm, more interested in chasing a new deal than looking after an existing one. 

As you can imagine, ‘doing a deal’ is what gets the average estate agent excited. Then comes 'the boring stuff'...

Once a sale is agreed real estate agents come into their own: looking after that deal. With surveys to organise, damp reports, electrical reports, appointments for all kinds of tradesmen to quote;  short-circuiting solicitor’s enquiries to get to the nub of issues: short leases, maintenance charges, boundary disputes; then mortgage requirements: down-valuations, further reports, potential renegotiations; and finally, dovetailing timescales: competing needs of sellers and buyers for differing completion days where a good agent will take the time to find the date that a whole chain can agree to...and before a mortgage offer runs out. This is just a snap-shot of a ‘day in the life’ of a real estate agent. A good agent will be doing some of that on a daily basis; keeping track of all parts of a transaction and keeping their client informed. 

When not done thoroughly, the first thing the seller or buyer may know of a hiccup, will be the call that it’s all gone horribly wrong; the buyer or seller has pulled out and you’re back at ‘Go’, do not collect £200!

Forewarned is forearmed. From day one of a property going on the market to the day keys are handed over, the most important thing an estate agent should do is to keep the client informed, be it good news or bad.  If you know what’s happening, you can make informed decisions.  Our biggest bugbear is the agent who says, when asked about the status of a sale along a chain; “Don’t worry about it, it’s fine!” Those are the words we most hate as it shows the agent hasn’t a clue what is happening with the sale they are supposed to be looking after, and think they can fob us off. We really do need to know chapter and verse; what is the real story?

Clearly, sellers only discover whether the agent they have employed will do this thoroughly is some time after they agree a sale and it begins to move forward. All agents promise this communication but how many deliver? Some sales are really straightforward with very motivated sellers and buyers. We all love those, but even then, issues crop up and need skilled handing. So, when you invite an agent around to look at your property, grill them thoroughly about this critical part of the selling; it can be the difference between smiles and endless frustration!

Some firms don’t worry too much about it; others out-source ‘sales progressing’ to third parties.  Can they do the job as well as your local, experienced, on the case agent?  From many years in the business, we’ve realised you cannot trust to luck that everything will go well, you have to work at it.  

Best of luck.

Paul Bonett  F.N.A.E.A.  M.A.R.L.A.