How did estate agents really feel about their short notice return to work? The Secret Estate Agent reveals all

PUBLISHED: 10:14 20 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:32 20 May 2020

The Secret Estate Agent answers your property posers. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Secret Estate Agent answers your property posers. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Archant

Let Hertfordshire’s Secret Estate Agent answer your property questions and give an insight into the world of estate agency...

How did estate agents really feel about the few hours’ notice they were given by the government to resume business?

It was welcomed albeit unexpected within the industry, but acted more as a precursor to give us a little time to get things readied as opposed to be expected to open the offices the very next day with an ironed shirt and tidy facial hair.

Crucially, physical viewings are imperative to get some fresh sales underway as virtual or video viewings were really just superficial; viewers need to physically view a property to give their offer credibility and get the full attention of the vendor. Clearly, kick-starting the housing market is seen as a cornerstone of getting the economy up and running as soon as possible.

Do you think we’re likely to get a stamp duty holiday?

About as likely as a family holiday abroad this year, but I hope I’m wrong.

I think if there is one it will be directed at incentivising the first-time buyers as there will be a pent-up supply of new build homes nationwide to sell. Locally, the stamp duty strangles the typical seller upsizing with a whopping 10 per cent from £925,000 to £1.5m.

I would welcome relief at this level to stimulate the local market and would gladly give up any family holiday.

Roughly how many people attending property viewings are just nosey time wasters?

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One is too many but, paradoxically, the current situation may eliminate some of the time wasters and we can concentrate on serious buyers and sellers.

As responsible agents we are really stressing to viewers to do their research before viewings, from the location of the property on Google Maps/Street View to scrutinising the floor plan for the layout of the property and checking school catchment.

It is infuriating for agents to convey feedback to clients that the viewer didn’t like the property as it had a downstairs bathroom, north facing garden, was on a busy road, was too far from the station, etc, etc. All too familiar, all very researchable beforehand.

If you could change one thing in estate agency, what would it be?

The process from accepting an offer to exchange is over-long and over-complicated (normally by solicitors) causing unnecessary stress.

I’ve had buyers and sellers withdraw from sales inexplicably and crucially too easily without any financial penalty. They normally tell me by email or through their solicitor and do not return my calls and the agent can unfairly become the scapegoat. The consequence of their actions on the other parties in the chain are often financially and emotionally damaging.

I believe it should be mandatory for sellers to engage a solicitor before they go to market and prepare a sales pack and draft contract to immediately be sent and allow the buyer’s solicitors to crack on with searches and enquiries. This would typically reduce the process by at least two weeks. The buyer should have a strict and agreed timescale to arrange surveys and instruct solicitors or potentially the house goes back to the market. The first two weeks is crucial and sets the tone for the transaction.

Do you have a question for the Secret Estate Agent? Email jane.howdle@archant.co.uk or get in touch via our Facebook or Twitter pages.


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