A recent few days on the Iberian peninsula gave me much cause for consideration. Whilst enjoying the temperate climes, Havana Club rum and majestic, mountainous views (invariably encased in material working overtime to try and pass the fit and proper test of ‘clothing’…), I also spent a few hours dealing with my counterparts in the world of Spanish estate agency. And let me tell you; it made me wonder which nation has got it right and whether things should, or even could change in the UK. If someone decides to call out an agent to their Spanish property, the agent does not arrive all geared up to perform their routine to get the instruction. Nor do they present the sales package that makes them better than any other agent in the area (albeit that they may well be the best in the area at what they do). No; having been called out to a property the agent gets the contract out straight away. There is no beauty parade or cabaret act to convince the owner to pick them. In calling them out it is decreed that the home owner has already consciously chosen to use that specific agent; the home owner is instructing them-that is not open to question. There is no such thing as sole or joint agency. If you want to instruct ten agents, then go ahead; winner takes all. There is no stamping of feet and brexit-like “it’s not fair” behaviour if it is sold by another agent-everyone knows the rules of the game. To this end, it is industry practice that all agents arrive to that first meeting with a contract stating that if, within a 12 month period, the property is sold to someone who they initially introduced, then the introducer gets the fee. This is applicable whether the vendor has 20 contracts with 20 agents; the 20 agents understand how it works. I wondered how this would go down with the property fraternity in the UK in general and specifically the NP4 postcodes. It is imbued in us that we have to be sole agents-there is no sharing the market. Why? During our pick-me presentation we all say how good we are and some (you know who you are), devote a whole part of their routine to booting the boot in on their fellow agents. Really though, what relevance does this have to selling the house? If we are that good, then who cares about other agents, because we are going to sell it, right?
At my next valuation, I am going to say that my fee is the same whether I am sole or joint agent. Nor will I discourage the vendor from employing another agent because I know that Cheshire & Co are good enough to sell it. Why wouldn’t we be? Capitulating on the fee is almost an admittance that you might not be quite as good as you initially said. Of course, some you win, some you lose and undoubtedly a refusal to bend may well lead to a vendor choosing to take their business to an agent who, having told them how utterly brilliant they are, when asked about their fee replies with the line, “Whatever Cheshire & Co said, I will beat it”. You know who you are.