Anyone who’s ever sold a house will be familiar with the phrase “selling your home is stressful” – and it is. What you don’t need to find out after you’ve received an offer that there are technical difficulties that could have been picked up before your house when on the market. Things like problems with certificates and titles and other problems that might prevent you from selling.
It has always been a mystery to us why estate agents don’t need any qualifications before setting up in business. It’s also strange that there’s no formal regulatory authority to oversee what they do and enforce any regulations. There are various “trade” or “professional” bodies but, unlike the Law Society of Scotland, they have no regulatory oversight powers.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen the emergence of online estate agents, you know, the ones that are cheap and cheerful, where you pay a fee upfront – and where you do all the work! They criticise traditional estate agents for charging commission – but then again, traditional estate agents do a lot of work for their clients! It does seem quite strange to us that they charge quite a lot of money for simply listing your property in various websites and they don’t seem to do any practical work at all to help you sell your home. And, of course, if you run into a problem, don’t expect them to step in and help!
You would be excused for thinking that we’re complaining about the competition. We aren’t – competition is good! However, we are genuinely concerned about the lack diligence, qualification and even understanding of some of the technical aspects of the selling process – it’s not just about marketing!
Let’s say you’ve had an extension added to your home. Your house is on the market and the particulars praise the size of the extension and the quality of the materials used and all of the things that make it wonderful. But – did the estate agent bother to check whether you had all the correct certificates that you’ll need to show the buyer, you know, things like planning permission or a building warrant? Did they check for any guarantees for the window installation of that the electrical completion certificate was satisfactory – and here’s the big one – that your extension was actually built on ground you own! This isn’t as strange as it might sound where there are so many properties with shared ownership of parts of the garden.
When someone sends in an offer to buy your property, you expect it should all go smoothly from there. The very last thing you need is to have your stress levels increased when you’re told that something’s gone wrong.
There may be title issues or questions about boundaries. How about questions relating to access, septic tanks and the like? Estate agents have very little interest in these things, taking the view that it isn’t their problem. The think “that’s one for the lawyers to sort out” The problem with that attitude is that “the lawyers” might not even know your property’s on the market till the offer arrives.
Let us be very clear. Many estate agents do a good job and may sales go ahead without there being any great problem. However, when you instruct us to act for you as your estate agent and your solicitor it allows us to check your titles and other certificates. This allows us to not only bring issues to your attention but also make recommendations as to how there issues might be resolved. It also lets us prepare for any questions about the issues that will be raised when we receive an offer.
We will, of course, deliver an excellent estate agency service as well with all the usual listings to get your property noticed.
The old adage “forewarned is forearmed” has never been more appropriate than when you decide to sell your most valuable asset.
If you’re thinking about selling your house, we’d be delighted to deal with the estate agency and legal work for you. Please call us on 01698 373365 or click here to email us.