21st December 2020
Newsletter Editorial by Michael Moore
Property Industry Eye recently reported a 2,206% increase in the fall-through of sales since June 2020. However, as an agent with over 30 years experience, we know that many, even most, house sale fall-throughs can be prevented with good planning. This is exactly what we pride ourselves on at Moores…
After reading Property Industry Eye’s article I rechecked our 2020 stats and reaffirmed that Moores have not seen any increase in ‘fall-throughs’ compared to previous years. A significant increase in fall-throughs leads me to believe the agents from whom the data has been collected have not been very efficient. They’re possibly leaving too much of their work to automated/online systems. Automation of systems does not replace good ‘old fashioned’ estate agency. It never will, no matter what algorithms or artificial intelligence is adopted.
Our negotiators have the latest cloud-based software to help them. But that’s all it does – help. Automation cannot prequalify buyers, nor establish the facts behind any chains not the position of the parties in a chain. Our negotiators take care of that personally, using their care, skills and experience.
We establish a buyer’s affordability and buying position before we even book a viewing. Otherwise, we’re wasting their time, the seller’s time and our own time. This involves identifying weaknesses in the buyer’s position or any chain they may be involved in. If necessary, we then address weaknesses where possible prior to agreeing a sale. We also issue clear and concise instructions to solicitors along with the client’s realistic expectation of timescales once a sale is agreed. Whilst the solicitors are working on the conveyance we keep in touch with all the parties to ensure personal circumstances haven’t changed. Inevitably, events do change, but if everyone is ‘kept in the loop’ expectations can be managed and sales held together.
I am constantly amazed how many agencies fail to prequalify buyers. Some even fail to qualify them when an offer is made, only to find the buyer cannot raise the finance and the sale falls through a few weeks later.
Many agents do not investigate the property they are selling. This is a fundamental precursor to any sale we handle. Downloading the Land Registry Title and Plan is always my starting point. This confirms who owns the property, if there’s a mortgage on it, if it’s freehold or leasehold. If it’s leasehold, we can see the Ground Rent and Service Charge. And, if it’s a short lease, if it’s mortgageable?
Rights of way and easements are rarely mentioned in estate agents advertising. Yet, a last-minute discovery of such an impediment can see a sale fall through very easily. Perhaps the most common failing is where agents either fail to disclose the sale is awaiting Grant of Probate or they don’t know it’s subject to probate in the first place, often coupled with the fact the title is unregistered and the deeds are missing!
All of these situations are manageable if dealt with in advance. All parties need to be made aware of the issues and any likely timescales. Frustration and ‘buying fatigue’ often result in sales falling through. Part of a professional estate agents role is to manage these.
I was interviewed by the BBC in 1983 as one of the first estate agents in Leeds to have a computer to help sell property and was asked whether this was the beginning of the end for estate agents. My reply then was the same as it is now – estate agency is a people business as much as it is a property business and computers (automation) will never be able to manage people’s desires, hopes, aspirations and expectations.
Find out more about Michael Moore and our team here.