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I am a former estate agent and author of the book: Inside EA – A Behind the Scenes Look at How Estate Agents Operate (Kindle version – Amazon.co.uk). In the past I have written articles for industry magazines and assisted researchers of property related television programmes such as House Doctor. More recently, I have been a guest blogger for The Guardian.com and the HomeOwners Alliance, where I have also provided advice for the consumer group’s members in matters related to estate agency.
During my twelve years in the business, I worked for many different types of estate agencies in good and bad markets. I was involved in the sale of property at both extremes of the housing market, from multimillion-pound homes equipped with tennis courts and heated swimming pools, to rat-infested repossessions in areas that even the police were cautious of venturing into after dark.
Why did I write this book?
Property has always been an extremely topical subject—we are a nation fascinated with bricks and mortar. In recent years, I could not attend any type of social gathering without at least one person quizzing me about house prices or the practices of estate agents. At one dinner party, there were several people in attendance with occupations far more interesting than mine—law enforcement, education, and the medical professions, to name a few. As soon as it was known that I sold houses for a living, I became the most popular person in the room.
Do estate agents buy all the investment properties themselves? How can I buy repossessions? I’ve heard that estate agents ‘invent’ offers and instigate bidding wars to boost their commissions. Am I paying too much for sole agency? Should I instruct more than one agent to sell my home?
The above were just a few of the questions I’d be asked. Some were valid, while others were nothing more than misconceptions. Nonetheless, this was the kind of information people were looking for. So instead of holding estate agency clinics at dinner parties and family barbecues, I wrote this book. But that’s not the only reason.
As an estate agent, your work brings you into contact with the general public on a daily basis, which anyone with a similar customer-facing occupation will tell you, isn’t always easy. However, when you sell houses for a living, you are dealing with people who are experiencing one of life’s more stressful events: moving home. The process of buying or selling a property can be difficult at the best of times. And when doing so, you can do without the added frustration of dealing with an estate agent who chooses to act in their own best interests and not anyone else’s.
For many years I wanted to provide people with a real insight into how estate agents operate and the best way to buy or sell property through them. Possessing such knowledge would help people avoid the bad agents, while recognising and getting the most out of the good ones.
About the book
Within Inside EA’s 348 pages, I provide the reader with a complete, inside view of how the estate agency industry operates – good and bad, ups and downs, boom or bust. And with every subject discussed; every topic addressed, I provide real-life scenarios to further illustrate my point – something which I’m told has made the book an insightful and entertaining read.
I distinguish the different types of estate agent, from the corporate giant with high street offices nationwide, to the single office independent in your town or village. We take a detailed look at how the different firms are set up; their strengths and weaknesses, and the pros and cons of dealing with each as a home buyer or seller.
I explain, step by step, how estate agents appraise/value people’s properties and how they arrive at the asking prices they recommend to prospective clients for marketing their homes. Do estate agents purposely undervalue or overvalue property? We look at the positive and negative outcomes of both such pricing scenarios.
We also have a look at estate agency fees and contracts. Sole and multiple agency agreements are explained in detail and the plus and minus points of both carefully examined, including how having too many agents market your home may damage your chances of getting the best price for it. The use of estate agency boards is discussed – when they help and when they become a hindrance to all. Do you really need one to sell your home?
For prospective buyers: what’s the best way to register with estate agents and ensure you’re informed of properties new to the market, or even before they go up for sale. Why you shouldn’t rely too much on the internet or email in your search for a new home. Find out how estate agents categorise buyers; what they deem a strong buyer and who they consider a timewaster.
I explain the process for handling offers to buy; what estate agents need to ask buyers, and the minimum information an agent must have before presenting an offer to their client, the seller. I also describe the psychological manoeuvring used by some agents to close deals and once again, provide real-life scenarios to illustrate the point.
In recent years we’ve seen television cameras follow the day to day work of estate agents in fly-on-the-wall type documentaries. Viewers got a glimpse into just how competitive, and in turn stressful, front line estate agency can be. However, what the TV programmes didn’t show is how fierce competition between rival estate agencies, as well as colleagues in the same firm, can adversely affect members of the public. Within the book, I describe the various underhand tactics some agents resort to in order to triumph over one another and provide details as to how their activities can hurt property buyers and sellers.
In one chapter I cover the subject of investment property – how to recognise a good deal and the various sources for finding one. Can you really pick up a bargain through a high street estate agent or do they reserve all the profitable deals for themselves? Once again, I provide real-world examples including stories of illicit transactions involving property developers, estate agents and cash-filled brown envelopes!
Property repossessions are also discussed – how to recognise one and whether or not repossessions are the bargains some websites and publications claim them to be. Find out why certain buyers will never be able to purchase a repossessed property regardless of whether they offer the full-asking price or above. I provide readers with a detailed explanation of how estate agents market and sell such property from beginning to end. There are also incidents of estate agents abusing the process, in turn deceiving the banks and building societies they were acting for and selling the properties to associates at below market value. The branch manager of one estate agency broke the rules by buying repossessions himself through a separate company he owned. Another estate agency boss even managed to rent out a repossessed house without the knowledge of its owners – the building society for whom he was supposed to be marketing the property.
Throughout the book I provide many anecdotes drawn from my years of working at the sharp end of London’s property market. And the final chapter is a collection of humorous stories of what I’ve known some estate agents to get up to in their clients’ properties; which you might find….well, a little outrageous!
Experienced estate agents relate to the content of Inside EA; expressing opinions and commenting on how the book provides a balanced view of the industry.
When a reader used the jargon explained in the chapters, estate agents she was dealing with actually asked her if she’d ever worked in the industry herself. And after reading the book, one young man considering a career in estate agency was better able to decide the type of estate agency he wanted to work for.
Property professionals, buyers, sellers, journalists and editors have described Inside EA as an insightful look into how estate agents operate. An easy read, informative and entertaining, “hilarious” and “laugh out loud funny” in places is what they’ve said, but I’ll let you judge that for yourself.
Inside EA – A Behind the Scenes Look at How Estate Agents Operate