Extra-ordinary agents

Thursday, August 05, 2010 | by Ivor Dickinson

One of my god-children has just completed two weeks work experience at Douglas & Gordon. When reporting back to his father to relate his experience, he said that it wasn’t a career for him. Fair enough! But the reason he gave was that being an estate agent seemed a very unfulfilling and boring profession. “All they do is show people houses, and when they do they don’t seem to do much selling.” I realise that recounting this tale does not show Douglas & Gordon in a very good light, but it is the perception of the general public and of many people who do choose to enter this profession. It couldn’t possibly be further from the truth. To be a truly outstanding estate agent requires a great many skills (very few people have them), and the easiest part of the process is showing someone around a house.

Firstly less than 10% of applicants who register at our offices actually end up buying a property. A good estate agent can discover if you are one of those 10% in the very first telephone call, and most importantly without being patronising. The amateur will have spent many weeks showing properties to a great many, probably very charming, people who never buy a thing.

The majority of buyers have very high expectations, normally too high. A good estate agent can lower these expectations, without being patronising. The amateur will show one inappropriate property after another until the applicant despairs and looks elsewhere.

When you view a property with a good estate agent, they will have done their homework and know their area. They will be able to tell you exactly what the owner has done to the property, what their timings are as regards moving, what the likely costs of doing any necessary alterations may be, what would be the cost of extending the lease, which direction the garden faces, what the vendors are planning on leaving in the property, and I could go on. The amateur will tell you “This is the kitchen”.

If a vendor is planning to sell a property and a purchaser wants to buy it, the only thing that needs to be done is to negotiate a price that both parties are happy with. Therefore the only thing that is actually preventing most buyers purchasing a property is coming across a poor estate agent. Make no mistake; the art of negotiation is a very great skill, a good estate agent has it, the amateur does not.

Having agreed an offer there is still a very long way to go. The surveyor will advise the purchaser of any work that may be required to the property, which can turn out to be quite a scary document. A good estate agent will talk you and the vendor through the survey, advise what is reasonable and what is not, and if necessary re-negotiate the price. The amateur will leave you to your own devices.

To be honest I could go on for several pages about what makes a great estate agent but I’m limited to five hundred words. I hope, however, that you get my drift. This is an incredibly under-rated profession, to be the best you honestly have to be an exceptional individual in so many ways. In twenty three years at Douglas & Gordon I have come across a great many of these people. They are a pleasure to work with and an inspiration to me every single day…Many work for me here at Douglas & Gordon, but there are also a great many who don’t, yet!

Recruitment opportunities are available on the D&G recruitment page