The most expensive of ‘Cheapest fees’

coinsThose of you who regularly read Plymouthpropertynews will not be surprised when I say that it’s that time of year again when I get onto my soap box. Why would you need to I hear you ask? The market is great, despite a lack of stock and as I write this, the sun is shining and property is selling! My issue is a simple one – FEES and the perceived value of service.

Let’s not beat around the bush here – there are many who wouldn’t pay for something if they didn’t have to. The issue of what fees you will pay to an agent is always a hot topic and you can’t blame the general public in choosing the agent with the lowest fee if there aren’t other points of difference to make their own choice easier?

The problem with using an estate agency is that you never really know if the commission you pay for an agent’s service is expensive or good value until you’re at the point of exchanging contracts. This often means that the lowest fee at the start of the sale often looks to be the most expensive by the end!

Maybe a better estate agency business model would be that at the end of the sale you actually pay for what you think the service was worth? Based on a percentage of the original sales fee quoted?

Research shows that if you receive great service consumers will pay for it. Jo Causon, Chief Exec at the Institute of Customer Service undertook a recent study and its findings rang true – “Customer priorities are changing. They are more concerned with employee attitude, behaviour and competence than they are with price – and they want to reward great service properly.”

Paying for great service (tipping) has been widely used in service industries for years and for many people this aspect of payment forms a strong part of their wage. Estate Agency is no different with often up to 50% of an estate agents wage being made up by commission from selling houses. This begs the question why is the practice of paying for great service any different in estate agency? It shouldn’t be and I’ll be transparent when I speak on behalf of Mansbridge Balment Plymouth when I say that we expect to work very hard for our commission – and in the end we expect to be paid fairly in relation to that hard work.

I know it’s always difficult gauging worth in relation to a service industry. After all, our product is the quality of service and years of experience that we provide, the friendly knowledgeable staff that are there 7 days a week for your convenience and the guile to get you the right price from the right buyer, to the right timescales.

In a world now seemingly consumed by extreme degrees, be it businesses like the Pound shop or the other end of the spectrum with places like Flannels in the City Centre – the bland and average business offering is getting lost. This leaves extreme choices for many (dare I mention Trump and Brexit here?) where the only choice is to go for ‘something not the same as the rest’.

As in the retail sector the difference in estate agency should be in the customer service and attention to individual detail given to you the consumer.

There are people who make a living out of ‘not paying for anything’ but there are also those who will pay extra for great service on top of doing the expected.

Do you tip for good service already? Or are you the type of person who would flag up when a drink was not charged for? Or would you try and get away with it because of the poor quality service you received?

If you received the very basics you were promised from an estate agent (i.e. the property sale was agreed) but you also received great service and individual attention too, in the cold light of day, would you be more concerned with employee attitude, behaviour and competence than you are with price – and would you reward the great service you received?


When is the best time of year to sell your PL3 property?

Possibly one of the most frequently asked questions for an estate agent is: when is the best time of year to sell my home? While there is no absolute optimum time to put your property on the market, seasonal patterns can affect buying and selling habits. PL3, is no different with certain times of the year proving to be more fruitful than others.


For PL3 especially, schools and their timetables have an impact on the amount of buyers actively looking to move.


Spring is often considered the season when the market picks up and hits its stride. The warmer weather and lighter evenings give people extra motivation to go on viewings, while the bright daylight can help your home look that bit lovelier. Your garden (if you have one) will seem much more appealing in the spring months and it is also the time when families wanting to move to the area for a particular school may start to look in order to be in a new home before the new school year starts in September. It turns out that of the properties sold in 2016 in PL3, 25.7% of properties sold during the months of spring.


August and early September can typically be a quieter time for the property market. The schools have broken up for the summer and lots of people go on holiday around this time of year. That means there are fewer people around for viewings — especially families. It is a different story in June and July though, which can be the busiest months for estate agents with the volume of viewings increasing and then the market tends to peak before the schools break up. The summer months saw 25.6% of properties sold in PL3.


With mild weather and light evenings, the early part of autumn can still prove buoyant for property sales. Children are back at school which gives parents more time to concentrate on buying a new home, and most of the people looking on the market in the autumn will hope to find their perfect property in time for Christmas. Towards the end of autumn, the colder weather and the shorter days can lead to a slight dip in the market. PL3 sold 24.4% of properties in the autumn months.


Winter can be a trickier time of the year to sell a property as the market slows down and everyone’s thoughts turn to Christmas. However, there can still be positive movement in the colder months; buyers who are searching for property at this time of year will be more determined about purchasing a new home therefore you tend to get less viewings of a better quality. The winter months in PL3 saw 24.4% of properties sold.


As you’ll see from the graph below the housing market is now all-year round and the peaks and troughs are a bit of a myth! So far in 2017 the sales have been at high levels with the only problem being a lack of stock to be able to sell. If you are holding back your property for sale later in the year then my message to you is – why wait? The buyers are there now so contact us today!



Property transactions levels holding steady all year round.


The Brexit vote and the falling value of the pound have led some to think sales levels might have dipped in the market. However, as the chart shows, sales levels have remained steady throughout the year in PL3, contrary to the perceived negativity in the market. We expect steady sales levels in the coming 12 months.