Look, I know I have a tendency to bang on about the ridiculous, underhanded and downright stupid things that some estate agents get up to (stealing chocolate bars from people’s homes springs to mind) with the apparent intention of dragging the reputation of our profession (even) further into the dirt, but … PUH-LEASE!
Clients told me today that – despite electing to have no outwardly visible signs that their home was on the market (in other words, they didn’t want a For Sale board) – they had had the dubious pleasure of a stranger knocking on their door.
“Hello, I’m from ********* Estate Agents and I’ve seen that your house is up for sale. Tell me, how are the viewings going? Are you happy with the service you’re getting? Have you signed a sole agency agreement? How long for? Etc…”
Vendors, affronted by having someone turning up on their doorstep, touting in such a way: “We’re very happy thank you”.
“Oh, I’m so pleased. Yes, I know Martin at Haigh & Sons very well…”
A note here: anyone who claims to know me very well is either a friend, who would not try to steal business from me, or – let’s not beat around the bush – quite possibly a liar who doesn’t know me very well at all.
“… I wonder, though, if we might be able to help you find a property to buy. Whereabouts are you looking? Oh, yes we cover that area too. In fact we’re valuing a property there this afternoon. Wouldn’t it be great if it suited your requirements? It’s in ******** (names the exact road). The owners have very young twins and need more space. I’ll ring you if we win the instruction.”
Now, stop the video a minute. Freeze frame this moment and think about what has just been said.
Name of road limits the choice to, maybe, 30 or 40 houses. That’s bad enough in itself. Precise details of the owners further limits the choice down to, er, most likely not more than one property.
As it happens, by chance, our clients don’t know anyone who lives in the said road. But what if they had? How long would it have taken for them to work out who is thinking of selling their home. And what if the twins’ parents didn’t want the world-and-his wife knowing that they’re thinking of selling up just yet? What if they’re splitting up, and one doesn’t even know the other one’s getting the house valued? What if they have the chance of a move abroad but haven’t broached the subject with the kids’ grandparents yet? What if… ?
WHAT HAPPENED TO CLIENT CONFIDENTIALITY AND DATA PROTECTION, FOR PETE’S SAKE, NOT TO MENTION INTEGRITY, DISCRETION AND PROFESSIONALISM? !!!
The irony is, as our vendors didn’t get THAT call, the agent concerned clearly didn’t get THAT instruction! If there’s any justice, the property was hopefully bought privately by someone else to whom the agent blabbed.
It’s not the first time I have wanted to punch things out of sheer frustration over the disgraceful behaviour of some people in this industry (have I told you the one about the estate agent who rang up one of our buyers and told them that they really shouldn’t be purchasing the property they had set their heart on, because it was overpriced. Yet, according to the vendor, who was unsurprisingly livid to hear of such a dirty trick, that agent’s valuation had actually been higher than ours?). And, know what? I’m sad to say it most certainly won’t be the last time either.