The things your estate agent won’t tell you
They overprice your property
The average sale price ends up being 12-15% less than the initial asking price. There are many potential reasons for this, but it’s largely due to the fact that estate agents give you a higher valuation than is realistic so that you’ll go with them.
They make personal use of your property
More often than you’d like to think, estate agents use the properties they’re selling for their own personal use. For example, one anonymous agent confessed that it’s common to have naps in uninhabited houses they’re showing.
Did you know you can actually negotiate the commission fees? The idea that these figures are set in stone is a common misconception as it is possible to bring down the percentage that your estate agent takes out of your profit.
Open house events help them more than you
Open houses tend to be more beneficial for the estate agent than for the sellers, as they allow agents to meet potential clients who may still be in the market for their own estate agent.
Your agent could be using ‘dual agency’ to double their commission. This means that the agent is representing both the buyer and seller and essentially playing both sides. If this is the case then be on your guard, as it’s a practice that’s only really works for the agent.
They’ll hand your work on
That well-known agent that you hired because of their reputation is likely to pass you off to one of their juniors once the contract is signed. If you’re concerned about this, be sure to make it clear that you would like to deal with the same agent throughout the buying or selling process.
Their contracts can have hidden fees
Once you choose an agent to represent you, be sure to read the contract thoroughly before signing it as there may be hidden administrative fees in addition to the chunk they take for commission. Like the rate of commission, any fees are also up for negotiation to a more reasonable amount.
Estate agents can’t give you an honest answer even if they want to. That’s because they are barred from defaming the property in any way, so if you’d like to know the honest answer, the internet or chatting with neighbours is your best bet.
They won’t tell you about disputes with neighbours either
Who your new neighbors are can have a huge impact on your quality of life. Estate agents will often know about issues but not mention them to buyers. Make sure you go and research this element yourself in case you find you have just moved in next door to the neighbours from hell.
They won’t tell you how much they make personally
If your estate agent is more unwilling to negotiate their commission than you would expect it’s probably because they don’t actually pocket all of it. Part goes to their company while things like for sale signs may also come out of their earnings.
They earn an Initial incentive
Estate agents often get paid before they even sell anything. By simply getting you to list your property with them they earn money.
They sometimes make up prospective buyers
Those ‘ready-made’ buyers that your agent talks about don’t actually exist most of the time. The reality is that once they list your property on popular websites, interested buyers will usually get in touch with them, but these people will have no previous relationship with the agent.
If you are a buyer interested in a property which needs work they will often suggest it will cost a lot less than it will really set you back to replace a kitchen or bathroom or repair
Incentives are better than upgrades
Instead of splashing out on costly and stressful upgrades like marble countertops or hardwood flooring that your agent may convince you are necessary, you can offer potential buyers a financial incentive. For example, a discount off the price for upgrades to the house in place of the time and stress of overseeing renovations.
They make extra money from their recommended contractors
If you do decide to take on projects, you don’t have to use the contractors that are recommended by your agent. Feel free to look around for the best deals and negotiate rates with the contractors you find on your own, but be sure to check their previous work and references to ensure quality.
Don’t leave all of the work up to your real estate agent. Be sure to utilise all of the property websites and information available in your search for your dream home.
They won’t really suffer if they sell your house for less
The percentage of your agent’s commission is not affected when you don’t get the asking price for your house. Sure, the overall amount will be lower because it is a percentage of what you make, but it will always be the percentage outlined in your contract with them. Basically, if your house earns you a few thousand under your asking price and your agent is set to take 2% of the final sale amount, that percentage stays the same.
They have other priorities
The property market is overheated and estate agents have plenty of clients, so don’t expect them to be working for you around the clock. If other deals are looking to be more lucrative than yours, those clients will get the larger portion of their attention.
While getting a great deal on the house you’re buying may seem great and will leave your agent with something to boast about to their future clients, it could come back to haunt you. If the time comes for you to sell, potential buyers need only conduct a quick search online to see past selling prices. If you paid a surprisingly low amount for the house, don’t expect new buyers to be willing to pay too much more unless you’ve done some serious remodelling.
They aren’t always what they seem
Be sure to actually check out an agent’s references before listing with them. Many people will rush to get their estate agent credentials when the market is booming and list their friends and family as their references. Without experience, they won’t know and understand your market so make sure to do your research before signing any contract.
They employ fake buyers
It may seem ludicrous, but professional viewers are actually known to be hired by agents to convince you that they will bring in an immediate influx of potential buyers should you list with them. Needless to say, once the contract is signed, these viewings start to slow down.
‘You should bid now before someone else does!’ and ‘Are you really willing to lose this home for the sake of a small amount of money?’ are both common phrases rehearsed by estate agents to create a false sense of urgency and pressure buyers into putting in an offer quicker, and often higher, than they are initially willing to.
They can sneakily under-price your property
So they can sell it quietly to a friend, relative or even a developer who will give them a back-hander for the privilege. Don’t be too trusting and make sure your get valuations from at least 3 agents and check out similar property prices.
You can sell it yourself – online
You actually don’t need a real estate agent. More and more people are going the “for sale by owner” route to avoid any selling agents dipping into their earnings. If you use all of the available tools to adequately educate yourself, selling on your own could be your best option as you’ll avoid paying an agent’s fees.