Stop Blaming the Agent

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

No matter how many articles are written about the importance of pricing a property correctly in order to sell, it is always going to remain a contentious, emotional issue. One of the benefits of publishing on the web is that readers can, and often do, respond. The response to articles offering advice on pricing issues often stirs up a storm of emotions, particularly when the article has been written by an estate agent or comes from an estate agency. Instead of being seen as sound advice, these articles are considered by some to be one-sided and the person quoted deemed to have a vested interest in selling property at a lower price.

It would seem that some sellers simply don’t believe those who tell them that their home is overpriced. In their minds, there has to be a hidden agenda and of course, the conclusion most often drawn is that the agent wants to make a quick sale and rake in the commission as fast as possible.

It doesn’t help that there are agents who, through sheer ignorance or a total lack of experience, continue to muddy the waters by supplying the seller with a totally unrealistic and inflated selling price. We all want to get the best price for our properties and it is natural that we are going to believe the agent who tells us exactly what we want to hear, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that the property is going to sell.

Some of the factors agents take into consideration when they value a property include what has sold in the area, at what price it has changed hands and what similar properties are currently on the market in the vicinity. Agents remove emotion from the process by conducting this type of research and should be able to provide solid reasons as to why they have valued a home at a certain amount.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how much the seller paid for the home, this is not the prospective buyer’s concern and to be frank, they do not care how much the seller wants in his pocket once the property has been transferred. They want the most property for the best price and, if they feel that the seller’s home doesn’t meet that benchmark, will move on and buy something that does.

This all makes perfect financial sense. However, there are sellers who truly regard agents as some kind of ‘third force’, deliberately driving down prices to earn a quick commission. In one of the more bizarre postings, a seller accused agents of deliberately lowering the price of property countrywide in order to earn their bread and butter.

Agents cannot force a seller to lower their asking price, although they can guide them and give them the benefit of their expertise.

Despite this, for some strange reason, there are sellers who take umbrage at the fact that someone (who they feel obviously doesn’t know what they are doing) has the audacity to tell it like it is in order to get the property sold as quickly as possible. Interestingly, very few sellers who have ended up selling for a much lower price - very often the price recommended in the first place - will admit to getting things wrong.

The butter may be spread a little thinner, but agents are still selling property and earning commission. The difference in today’s market is that properties that are realistically priced and offer good value for money are the ones that are attracting the most interest. Overpriced homes aren’t and, given the on-going slump are unlikely to start doing so anytime soon.

*Lea Jacobs is not an estate agent and is not affiliated to any real estate company.

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