Estate Agents

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Estate Agents. Apart from their socks, they are all much the same? Not quite was our experience.

As you may have read elsewhere on this site, we registered with as many estate agents as we could manage.  In fact, we registered with 51 agents in total. I couldn’t quite believe that as I typed it, but it is true – I checked our Estate Agents list! Some of them have since disappeared but in case you’re wondering, here is our list:

Aldous CraigElizabeth ScottHatchedLevene Property GroupSavills
AndrewsFeatherstone LeighHawes & CoLondon Property GuruStack & Bonner
Barnard MarcusFine & CountryHJC EstatesLordsThe Chancellors Group
Brinkley'sFoxtonsHumphrey & BrandLudlow ThompsonThomas & May
CarringtonsGascoigne PeesIvy GateMatthew JamesUrban & Lettings Online
ChancellorsGibson LaneJackson NoonMcCannWallakers
ChantriesGreenfieldJackson-StopsMervyn SmithYour Move
Colin BibraGreenfieldsJohn D Wood & CoParry & Drewett
Coombe ResidentialGuy SimmondsKinleigh Folkard & HaywardPenney & Co
CurchodshaartKnight FrankPortland Hill
DextersHamptonsLauristonsRAM

Bear in mind, this did not mean dealing with just 51 different agents. For many of these agents we were registered with multiple branches of the same company (sometimes at our request, but sometimes not) to ensure that we would be kept in touch with all potentially suitable properties in our area and also the surrounding areas. That can be a good thing, or a bad thing, depending on how comparable the surrounding areas are to your requirements.

In total, including multiple offices of the same company, we ended up being registered with 78 different offices of estate agents. All of them had our email addresses and phone numbers so we could (and often did) receive calls and emails about properties from any of them. We still don’t know if this was a good strategy or not … because it was all about risk reduction. It’s a bit like the National Lottery motto, you have got to be In It To Win It!

Our Experiences

Some agents were very sympathetic to our situation, understanding the urgency of our pending new baby, taking account of our criteria and giving us an honest opinion on what was available in the market. It really felt like they were listening to our needs and treating us as individuals. It did not seem to be down to a brand ethos, but much more an individual agent’s personality.

We particularly appreciated the agents who would book out a half day to spend with us, around a ahead, to show us suitable properties. This meant they could spend some time collating the right properties, arranging viewings with the vendors and tick off all potential properties within a morning or afternoon. It also meant that all our feedback was provided live to the agent, one property after another, and this helped the agent better understand our needs.

Others were less considerate, first appearing to listen to our requirements before rushing us off to a viewing in feigned excitement only to show us a property which later transpired to be nothing like what we were after but was most probably the one they were most keen to sell as soon as possible.

Mimicking Jeremy’s “You’re gonna love this one” became our little private joke between us in the car on the way to most viewings. Finding humour in frustration helped calmed the stress!

From houses in cemeteries and houses with the back garden flooded, to houses that weren’t even really for sale, we were shown them all! When we were getting really (really!) frustrated at one point and pleaded to one particular agent to tell us why we were suffering so many disappointments in terms of the properties we were being shown, we could see his face soften and humanity take control and finally we learned what was a key issue in our search: we were chain free! We had always considered that to be one of our plus points – so vendors would not feel threatened that we were reliant on selling our own property – and it was indeed an advantage in that respect.

But being chain-free can also put you at a major disadvantage … read what we learned here.

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