We recently decided that we would put our lovely flat on the market. It seemed like an easy decision at the time, though I’ll admit to feeling more melancholy about it now. Although we love our first home and we haven’t been here long, our circumstances have changed and we are ready to purchase something a little bigger. We are getting married this year and it seemed like the right time.
The first step to convincing yourself that it is time to move is to see what’s available. We knew exactly what we were looking for: a 3 bedroom house on the same estate we are on now. It is quiet, close to the station, and it has lots of smaller families suitable for young families (and within our budget!).
When we bought the flat, it was the first one we viewed. I say we. I mean me. Ramsey wasn’t available that day, so I attended on my own with my Mum and best friend. I knew it was the one, and I am so grateful that Ramsey trusted me as we put in an offer and it was accepted! He didn’t see it until we picked up the keys, which was a fairly nerve-wracking moment, but he loved it.
We nearly did the same again this time round, picking the first place we viewed. I found a lovely 3 bed house on Rightmove that I wanted to view and booked a viewing for us on the Saturday. It was a probate sale and the house needed a lot of work. But it was on a really large plot with a garage at the side, unlike the shared drives on most of the houses on the estate. This meant that there was a lot of scope to extend and I quickly had big ideas about what I wanted to do with it. We both loved it, Ramsey even more than me, and we put in an offer.
Our offer was accepted a few days later and we were thrilled. We viewed it again with our builder so we could scope out what we needed to do with it, and we loved it even more than we did the first time.
Then everything changed. Later that same day, we got a call from the estate agent. He was extremely pushy about us putting our own flat on the market with him. He had quickly valued the flat after we had attended our first viewing, spending less than 10 minutes here, unlike the other two agents which had come round who had spent over an hour viewing the flat and discussing their services. He had then quoted us a price which would have cost us over £1000 more than our next biggest quote (and around £2000 more than the cheapest). He also didn’t have a lot on his books locally, and there were other agents that better served the area.
We recognised the need to get our property moving quickly, and didn’t have an issue with that. But his insistence was not that we sold ours, but that we sold ours with him.
He was so unprofessional in his desperation to list our property that he forgot to actually value it. He never told us how much it was worth, even though we asked him a number of times. He asked us what we would really like to achieve, and then just insisted over and over again that he could achieve that.
He then subtly threatened us, saying that he the vendor wouldn’t be happy if we didn’t list with him, and refused to put our messages and requests to the vendor (we only asked him to ask if they would be OK with taking the property off the market for two weeks so we could sell ours).
Ultimately, selling with him would have been a mistake. He wanted to list the property with a price that was too high so it would have taken ages to sell. It is a classic tactic: list the property high so that the vendor thinks they’ll make more than they thought. Sign them up to a contract which requires them to list the property with them exclusively for a significant period of time. Then encourage them to lower the price.
However, his aggression on the phone, his badgering and desperation, and his general unprofessional behaviour meant that he not only lost the opportunity to sell our property, but he completely soured the sale of the other property for us too. It was going to be a lot of work. Our builders weren’t going to be able to get on site until at least January and the building work would have taken about a year, so we were going to have to live with the property as it was for some time. We are getting married in August, and I wasn’t sure this was the best way to start a marriage.
I’m disappointed, but I’m over it. We’ve already found somewhere else that we love. It is on a smaller plot, so the house is set a little further forward, but it is ready for us to move in, and I am confident that we will be able to achieve everything we had wanted to with the other one.
I’ve learnt a lesson though. This sale is going to fall through because of the agent’s behaviour. It is a probate sale, and having recently sold a similar property in the family, I understand the sensitivities. I am frustrated and disappointed that we are going to let them down, but I have learnt that who you list with is so much more important that the price they suggest they will get you.
UPDATE: I’ve set out my 11 tips to avoid sleazy estate agents here to help you avoid the pitfalls we didn’t!