A Local Anecdote: Who is Right? Who Is Wrong?

Stories that begin ‘a friend of mine’ are often about those who tell them, too embarrassed to reveal their own part. But this really is about a friend - honestly. 

Her five bedroom listed property (“in need of modernisation” as they say) was valued for sale by four estate agents - two national ‘top end’ chains and two regional chains - a year ago, in the autumn of 2010.

The two national agencies came in at £950,000 and £1.15m. The two regional chains (each with an office in the small town concerned) came in at £1.2m and £1.5m.

Sadly the seller did the obvious, wrong thing: she went for the highest valuation, despite knowing that the agency to which she gave her instruction was renowned for high valuations which all-too-frequently led to acrimonious disputes over disappointingly few viewings, inevitable price reductions and often dis-instruction.

The property went on sale over last winter at £1.5m and was given a frosty reception by would-be buyers: there were only three in the first month, and no offers. Easter came and went, the price fell twice to £1.2m, and eventually a deal was struck at the end of summer 2011....for under £1m.

The result? The vendor feels seriously annoyed with herself that she did not instruct one of the national chains, whose asking prices appeared more realistic in retrospect and may - who knows? - have engendered competition that would have produced a higher sale price.

The vendor also feels aggrieved that the manager of the local agency she instructed has now accused her of lowering the town’s sales values in general by accepting a price that he regards as unrealistically low - although he failed to secure a higher offer in nine months of marketing.

This is not another swipe at estate agents. The house is unusual, one-of-a-kind, and few comparables would have existed - so the diverse range of valuations is perhaps not as startling as it would appear at first sight. But everyone involved in the transaction, except the buyer, appears to be unhappy as a result of the way it was handled.

So who is right and who is wrong in this? I don’t know. Do you? If so, email me or join the debate on Twitter by tweeting @PropertyJourn.

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