Consumer magazine Which? has again criticised the Estate Agent industry after a review on current practices and methods.

During the months of November 2010 – and January 2011, the consumer (champion?) arranged for estate agents to value 48 different homes throughout England.

During their review they found:

  • Agents value property at very different amounts and average 9% higher than qualified RICS surveyors– When an agent offers a valuation its just an opinion.  Better agents will do their research and just like a chartered surveyor will look for comparable sold properties to back up their advice, because ultimately it would be wasting your time and theirs to knowingly exaggerate your property’s value.  Bad agents do the complete opposite and spout utter B.S even if there isn’t a hope in hell of your property achieving their hyped valuation figure in the real world.  In this case it’ll end in disappointment (and you’ll have to un-spend the extra you thought you were going to get, unless you are lucky enough to find a cash buyer who isn’t worried about paying over-the-odds). The majority of buyers use a mortgage to finance their purchase, and the surveyor instructed by lender will ultimately decide the value of your property (so the value of your home isn’t necessarily worth what another is prepared to pay).
  • Agents valuations varied even more when there wasn’t lots of comparable stock that had sold recently (one case being a whole £150,000 difference)– This simply reinforces that agents are not always as ‘expert’ as they would like to think at providing an accurate valuation of your home. Especially in a market where low selling stock levels mean its even harder to assess a property’s current value.  Ultimately if you have hugely varying valuations from different agents, someone is correct and the other needs to put a bit more effort in, or is simply playing a game with you (the one where they’ll work especially hard to get you to reduce your asking price during the period of your contract).
  • They found that agents fees varied and some were very high – Ok, but we live in a capitalist society, and companies are free to charge what they want provided they make their fees clear at the outset, which is ethical.  If a consumer wants to pay Foxtons 2.5%, then they make their choice and they no doubt have their reasons.  The fact is however that in the www world of today you can pretty much get the same service, the same advertising and the same quality of photographs for a fraction of the typical cost of one of these high end type agents.  Online estate agents offer a very similar service (albeit with a few little differences) but usually with a BIG cost saving.

fishneedwater offer fancy photographs (from a bonafide property photographer), online advertising on the biggest portals and best of all a RICS valuation(so you know your property is priced accurately in what is a difficult market to sell a property in – especially an over-priced one).  What’s more  we don’t charge the earth, and we’re doing all we can to help sustain it.