Q. With all the technology that's available today, why would anyone use an estate agent, instead of handling the sale themselves?
ASK THE EXPERT
A. While you personally may feel perfectly at home with technology, that doesn’t mean that everyone else does. For a lot of people, it’s actually quite an alien environment – or at least, not one in which they feel sufficiently comfortable to contemplate selling their most valuable asset without expert help. Besides, let’s not forget that none of the top national property websites accept listings from private sellers – which rather defeats the whole object.
Of course, it’s not impossible to sell your own home without recourse to a conventional estate agent. Despite this, however, only a tiny fraction of people actually do so. Nor have sellers exactly rushed to patronise those so-called internet agents who offer a basic, fixed-fee package.
Why is this? Well, for the simple reason that that there is a whole lot more to selling your home than sticking a homemade board in your front garden and an ad in your local paper – or online, come to that. Even assuming that you actually succeed in generating some enquiries, how do you sort the wheat from the chaff, the serious applicants from the complete timewasters? Leaving aside the security implications of letting complete strangers into your home, do you really have the time or the knowledge to handle all the viewings yourself, answer any queries and present your home in the best possible light? How do you qualify would-be buyers, to ascertain their financial circumstances and their ability to proceed with the purchase? Where do you turn for the expert advice and support you need to deal with all the stressful situations that can arise – for example, when your buyers come back demanding a price reduction on the basis of a problem unearthed by their survey? How do you go about monitoring the progress of the sale, and how do you deal with delays with other transactions up and down the chain?
In fact, the more you think about it, the more amazing it is that anyone should want to try and handle all this on their own. But then again, minimising stress and maximising peace of mind have never been exactly high on the agenda for your committed DIY-er…