Going, going, gone . . . . . subject to contract

Let me say first of all that I really have little respect for estate agents. It strikes me that they must be one of the least trustworthy ‘professions’. The manager of our estate agent in Derby claims to be working for us, but the evidence for this is not convincing. Of course, we shall be paying her, but that doesn’t mean that she is pursuing our interests … because the danger is that they do not coincide with her interests!

When we first signed up to sell the house, at the optimistic peak of the housing price bubble, we agreed to pay a fixed fee as commission to the agent. Six months later, and with only two visitors, the agent suggested we should drop the price by £30000. I said we would, provided they took some of the pain as well . . . . and after several phone calls the manager agreed on 1.4% (not a lot less but, as you will see, it becomes more important later).

Now, another four months and only one more visitor later, we are on the point of selling the house with another reduction of £30000. We’ve never met, or even spoken to, the potential buyers – and all contact is through the new manager of the estate agents. Who now says there is no record of her predecessor having agreed to change to a percentage based commission. Of course, if she were on a fixed commission, why would she be trying to get us the best price possible? Even on a percentage commission, I suspect that in the current slow market she might be happy to see our house sold at any price just to bring in some cash flow.

So, we have agreed to accept an offer £10000 better than the first offer, including curtains/blinds and our (good looking but knackered) cooker. And then the agent comes back and says the sellers will only go ahead if we pay the 1% stamp duty. We’ve said yes, provided she confirms the 1.4% commission.

And we wait, again, for her to ring. The solicitor is in action, getting the deeds and checking our outstanding mortgage. The house is ‘sold subject to contract’. And we are definitely, absolutely, not going to let this woman rip us off by £500. It’s become a matter of principle — and she needs to realise that she can have the reduced commission, or nothing at all.

Making a stand feels good. It’ll be interesting to see how she reacts. Am I being unfair on estate agents? I don’t know, but anyway, I can’t bear someone I don’t know calling me “lovey”. So there!

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