Lean in and I will let you into a little secret…

…estate agents are not interested in buyers, they are interested in vendors.  Was that the water in the font that I heard bubbling?  If an agent can get the instruction, then the buyers will come, no matter how uninspiring the performance. All the sales/tactics courses run by the large corporate organisations and training companies concentrate on sellers. Go on enough of these and agents become very accomplished at establishing the knowledge or greenness of the prospective buyer.  As a result, many willing participants are led like lambs to the slaughter house by unscrupulous agents.  Take fees: ring any agent, anywhere and ask what their fees are and I would bet the value of Sharon Osbourne’s plastic surgery bill that you won’t get a straight answer.  Answers from, ‘very reasonable’ to, ‘we like to discuss that at the valuation’ will be uttered with sincerity.  Why the inability to give a straight answer?  Because the agent will-having spoken with the prospective client-try and charge as much as he thinks that he can away with.  When an agent asks what other property professionals you have had out to the property, he is not displaying an exemplary bedside manner, but trying to establish what other fees they have been quoted, before they mention their own fee.  If it is established that the sellers are not engaging any other agent, then believe me, the fee quoted goes up.

Snake oil salesmen, politicians, estate agents, we tend to get lumped into the same bracket of moral turpitude. We all want to earn a wage, but sometimes, the behaviour of my fellow industry professionals makes me wince.  This week, I met a couple who have never before been involved in any kind of property transaction and the use of an agent.  Dear oh dear, they were skewered like new born puppies being mowed down from 20 paces with a machine gun. Having asked only one agent to come out to their property, who valued it at considerably, astonishingly more than what it was worth, they signed a sole agency agreement for 6 months at a fee of 3%. The property was not made available for 12 days, then 4 days later the same enthusiastic agent called to tell them that they had, “better reduce as no one wants it at that price”.  11/10 to the agent and I guarantee that he wins Employee of the Month/Decade.

Where in The Property Ombudsman’s code of practice is this type of behaviour covered?  In the merciless world of business, not least the part that covers property sales in Cwmbran, making the fastest, easiest, buck (or pile of them) is something that is rightly, encouraged.  But without wanting to sound too soft, let’s go hug a tree, how do you justify where you find yourself in this cavernous moral black hole? “The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool” Stephen King  This could be applied equally to those who campaigned for ‘protection’ of the public by establishing entities such as TPO and making membership a legal requirement.

Before anyone accuses me of disappearing up my own posterior, may I reassure them that I still drink, gamble (both within moderation), have a disproportionate loathing of anyone in a shiny suit and pointy shoes with gelled up hair and lust after a top of the range German manufactured executive saloon preferably with Miss Minogue in the front seat.