As a home finder working for buyers it continues to fascinate me how buyers are drawn into thinking that EA’s are on their side. We all intrinsically know that EA’s work for the vendor, but it doesn’t stop us falling into the trap of thinking the nice ones care about us. It got me thinking about how this happens and an EA’s core skills. Yes, they can work out the price per square foot of a rabbit hutch in a nanosecond, (their commission even faster), but what is their real core skill? I could only come up with one word. Charm.
That set me off thinking again and I had a eureka moment. Shrek.. not lovable Shrek himself, but his nemesis. Prince Charming. The dashing, cunning lothario after Princess Fiona’s heart. For love? I don’t think so. Of course we could always have chosen ‘Puth in Boots’ (imagine the Spanish lisp and big eyes), or Captain Braveheart from Blackadder (woof, woof), but for ease of Estate Agent personification I would like to focus on Prince Charming.
My working life is about being on the home-buyers side and the thought of buyers as the prey of Prince Charming bothers me. So here is a little guide for cutting through the charm.
You have seen a nice looking house on the internet- you call up the offices of Prince Charming and ask..
‘ How long has it been on the market?’ PC says..’It has been on the market for a little while, but we haven’t been fully marketing it’
Translation.. Nobody wants to buy it.
You ask ‘How many bedrooms?’ PC says ‘Three’
Translation… Two, if you want to be awkward and put a bed in.
You ask ‘How big is the garden?’ PC says, ‘It has a smallish garden’
Translation .. Six paving slabs and a potted geranium.
Prince Charming now gets into his stride. ‘It has been totally re-furbished to a very high standard’.
Translation .. a couple of Polish guys have slapped some magnolia around, put down Ikea laminate and fitted a B&Q kitchen.
‘It offers great potential and is full of character’ he continues.
Translation.. it’s horrid. Full of character just means spiders.
‘The owner has eclectic tastes’
Translation.. this can only mean one thing , the owner is utterly barking.
You are convinced and rock up at the house, Prince Charming zooms up in his mini and with a quick slap of his thighs he begins the tour.
‘Note the luxury bathroom’ PC says
Translation….. one of those green glass sinks- 50 quid from Wickes.
‘..And it’s a wet room’
Translation.. constant leaks into the lounge,you’ll be opening an account at ‘Sealants R Us.
You follow PC up the ladder to the ‘as an added bonus the loft room provides extra space for hobbies and un-expected guests’
Translation .. only a bonus if your unexpected guests are Snow White and the two midgets.
The promised sea view is just about squintable from the attics velux window and the carpets are not ‘that’ sticky. You are quite interested so you go back to the office for more discussion- and a complimentary Bitter Lemon.
‘So’ you say,’ let’s talk about the price.’
‘Well’ PC says, as he leans back in his red fake Corbusier chair, newly bleached teeth twinkling. ‘The Vendor is open to offers’
Translation .. The Vendor is desperate, PC is desperate and you’re the first person in six months to show an interest.
‘What is the Vendors position?’ you ask. PC says, ‘now, he hasn’t found but he assures me he will move into rented’.
Translation.. No he won’t.. I’ll say that again.. No he won’t.
‘I believe a sale recently fell through. Can you tell me why?’
Study his upper lip carefully at this point for signs of moisture as PC responds ‘the previous buyer had to pull out for health reasons’.
Translation .. just a minor heart attack- after reading the surveyors report.
So you make an offer, it may be low, it may be sensible, it may be high. Doesn’t matter, same reaction whatever… The demeanour changes, the eyes narrow – visualise Puth in Boots about to leap.
PC sucks air through his teeth. ‘I cannot possibly insult my client with that offer’
Translation… Oh, God, he’ll probably accept, but he’ll put me through hours of earache first.
Of course not all Estate Agents are Prince Charming. Some may be very nice Rolf Harris types, grumpy Father Teds or even remind you of Julian Clary, (but the Julian Clary’s are generally in Lettings). Nevertheless there is a big ugly moral to this fairy tale.
An Estate Agent is paid by the Vendor and does everything for the benefit of the Vendor- which is great if you are …. a Vendor. As a buyer you need to remember this and not be literally or metaphorically carried away by Prince Charming- a customised mini should not be mistaken for a white charger.
Written for http://www.buyassociation.co.uk