Estate agents have one ultimate goal – to enable people to buy and sell homes. It can, therefore, be frustrating when agents find it almost impossible to find someone to buy your home, even if you’ve had it on the market for months and months.
Of course, there are sometimes very good reasons for your home not selling. Sometimes, your agent can work their tail off and still not get anywhere. In such cases, there are actions you yourself need to take. But that’s for another article.
Such situations are, however, quite rare in the majority of UK markets. Most of the time, if an agent is performing their job well, a buyer, or multiple competing buyers, show up in reasonable time.
So how do you tell the difference between an agent who is genuinely struggling to find a buyer despite working hard and doing everything they can, from an agent who just can’t be arsed?
Usually, you can analyse the reasons they give you for your home not selling. The excuses. This will give you a good idea as to how genuine your agent is.
Below, you will find a list of common estate agent excuses which are, more often than not, codswallop: mythical explanations used to cover up professional ineptitude.
A common one: ‘Sorry, Ms Jones, this run of bad weather we’re having is making it impossible to get viewers over to your house’. It’s particularly common to hear this when snow falls.
But the truth is, people who want to buy a new home are rarely put off by the weather. We live in the United Kingdom – our weather patterns are not particularly extreme: if you want to go and view a house, there are very few, if any days on which the weather will stop you doing so. Unless, of course, you need to rely on TfL to get you there (just a little joke for our London readers).
Your agent is fibbing – the weather has nothing to do with selling your home.
It’s not just estate agents who use Brexit as an excuse for lack of activity. Politicians, business owners, restaurant managers – they’re all doing it. But estate agents have even less reason than most to cite Brexit as an excuse.
It’s been proven time and time again that Brexit has no sustained negative effect on the housing market: not on prices, not on demand. If your agent says Brexit is why your home isn’t selling, get yourself a new agent. Don’t even think twice.
School holidays / Homeschooling
It used to be the school holidays, now it’s homeschooling. ‘Sorry, Ms Jones, but with the kids at home all day, people just aren’t interested in viewing homes or moving. It’ll pick up when the schools open again.;
It’s not true. We’ve all had front row seats for the past 6-12 months, right? We’ve seen Covid lockdowns, closed schools, kids at home all day. Yet house prices have boomed and demand has reached unprecedented highs.
Scientists can probably confirm that the presence of children does not have an adverse effect on a human’s will to move home.
I can’t really find a way to explain this, but it’s a genuine estate agent excuse used more commonly than you’d like to believe: ‘Sorry, Ms Jones, but buyers are waiting to see what happens with the general election before committing to moving home.’
Rarely, if ever, does a general election result in significant changes in property prices or market activity. Agents who cite elections as a reason for your home not selling are talking out of their ballot boxes.
Alison Platt, the former Director of Countrywide once claimed that the uncertainty in the leadup to an election has a “clear correlation” with reduced market activity. Not long after making this comment, Platt lost her job.
Common colds and ‘bugs going around’
‘Sorry, Ms Jones,’ says the agent down the phone, speaking through a stuffed, red-raw nose, ‘but this bug that’s going around is putting buyers off. If we wait it out, I’m sure things will pick up.’
Not true. People don’t even tend to take time off work with a cold, let alone stop pursuing their life goals. And while such ailments could, in theory, cause the individual buyer to take some time out of their property search, it doesn’t cause the entire market to grind to a halt. Not even a global pandemic can do that.
An agent suggesting that the common cold or a bug going around is getting in the way of finding a buyer for your home is like the producer Eastenders saying nobody is watching because they’ve all got headaches.
Short winter days
Blame it on the changing seasons. Why not the tides of the sea, too?
If an agent tells you they can’t sell your home because it’s winter and getting dark by 4pm, tell them to pull their finger out and try harder.
It might be true that with fewer daylight hours, after-work house viewings drop off – people prefer to view in daylight rather than darkness – but this is simply not a valid excuse for failing to find a buyer for your home.
If operating hours are reduced in the winter, a good agent will simply increase the activity during those few daylight hours available. And when I say ‘few’, we’re not in Scandinavia where winter days bring 23hrs of darkness. Agents still have at least eight trading hours every day to be working in broad daylight. And they still have weekends.
People who are looking to buy a new home are often driven, dedicated, and excited. They WANT to view homes, they WANT the process to move quickly. They are not scared of the dark.
Have you heard any good, or not so good, estate agent excuses for your home not selling? Share them with us in the comments section below, and we can add them to this list.