The wrath of the Chesh (sequel to ‘Revenge of the Sith’ – you know where to find me George), was incurred by none other this week than the fragrant Sarah Beeny. Let me say that I have met Ms B and am the first in the queue to appreciate her astute business sense, perspicacity and substantial portfolio (she has some great houses as well….). She has made a very successful career from applying and utilising all the skills and attributes available to her, including those of the countless estate agents whom she has worked with over the years. It would seem that she now wishes to discard the aforementioned agents and is encouraging everyone looking to sell their property to go on line as she opined on various media outlets this week that, “traditional estate agents can work really well but they are expensive”. As Ms B would concur from the property TV show that rivalled her own, it is all about location; so was her comment pitched at the London market where to sell a £2 million property will cost £40k or the less affluent localities where to sell a £150k house will cost £1000? Do not listen to any of the sharp-suited agents from the NP44 postcodes who on a Friday night in their local hostelry claim that they won’t get out of bed for less than 1.5% or a minimum £1500 fee. They would run over their grandmother’s dog – and probably their grandmother as well – for a bag of sand.
Let me be frank; selling a house is like flying a jumbo jet on auto pilot; you do not need the living, breathing version until something goes wrong and then he or she is embraced with open arms. Every estate agent has a wall crammed with thank you cards for doing a job that Ms B says can now be done quite easily on line. Her new company, Tepilo offers three options for facilitating the sale of your property. I looked at the ‘bundle’ package that costs £795 for 6 months. The company will send an agent to ‘verify’ you and the property to ensure that it complies with the Property Misdiscriptions Act and that all anti-money laundering requirements have been satisfied. They do not value the property or offer any advice as to how best to present it, but they do put up a board, load the property onto Rightmove and offer the services of a ‘professional photographer’. This is all inclusive in the £795 fee. After that, you are on your own. This year, we have listed 120 properties and I worked out that if I could get the home owners of Torfaen to buy into a similar scheme, then I would gross £95,400 with no premises or office staff…I am with Ms B all the way in that an agent does not have to be based right in the middle of the town centre, but they need to be based some where in the locality to be able and willing to deal with any of the myriad problems that rear their ugly heads throughout the process of selling a property. When it all goes smoothly, our job is easy and a trained monkey could do it (something that I am sure Ms B has capitalised on in the past), but when a vendor encounters a problem (gas safety certificates, irascible purchasers, Japanese knot weed, solicitors who disappear to play golf by 10am on a Friday morning when you are due to exchange, to name but a few), you need a good estate agent-not a verification agent- who is doing their best to work for their client, the vendor.