â...Intimate local knowledge...â
Clearing up the usual junk mail from my doormat when I got home yesterday, I came across the daily flyer from an estate agent. As you would expect I always pay them special attention as it’s always interesting to see what the competition are up to. This particular one came from a national agency group, and on the reverse it boasted of their “intimate local knowledge”. I looked at the four photo’s of the their team – all expensively well groomed, not a young quiff in sight, oligarchs of the Guildford property market you might think......but in my 19 years working in this town, I have never heard of, let alone spoken to, any of them!! I rang a pal of mine at another firm in Guildford, who has been around longer than I have, and he said he’d never had any dealings with any of them either. So much for their intimate local knowledge!
I shall resist the urge to ring the Advertising Standards Authority, and I will continue to have a good chuckle over the drivel that some estate agents espouse about their skills, but it does raise the interesting question of what constitutes good local knowledge (I’m not sure I’d use the word “intimate” on any marketing literature!!). After all, how can you accurately value a property in an area if you have not worked there for a good number of years and seen and sold a large amount of houses? Local knowledge is a term that is bandied around by agents who have been in Guildford for five minutes, and it always surprises me why more owners of houses don’t ask the agents coming out to “value” their houses how long they’ve worked in the town and what similar houses they have sold. If you were about to add a big extension to your house, you’d want to know that your builder of choice had been in the trade for a good number of years and had carried out similar works....wouldn’t you?
When I first started in agency at the tender age of 21 (slim, big mop of hair, unable to grow a beard), I worked with a wonderful chap called Keith Cliff who was then in his early sixty’s, and had been selling houses for over 30 years. In Guildford. He sold my parents a house before I was born. That’s local knowledge. What he didn’t know about Guildford property wasn’t worth knowing, and people loved him for it. Not everyone liked his honesty when it came to prices, preferring to be flattered by high figures and big promises, but those that did take his advice on board were usually rewarded with a swift and hassle-free sale. I look back fondly on those years where I learnt a huge amount from true property pro’s.
Nowadays, home owners often seem baffled by the wide range of prices they are quoted when they ask agents in to value their houses. It may well come as a surprise to many of them that the nice chap in the pinstripe suit, from the national agency chain, that came round to appraise their house and have a cup of tea was in Esher/Cobham/Balham/Fulham (delete as appropriate) six months ago and doesn’t know the first thing about the local Guildford market.
Before making your choice of agent to sell your house, ask them (and their team!) how long they’ve been in estate agency, where they’ve worked and what sort of houses they’ve been selling. You might be in for a surprise...
19th year in estate agency in Guildford
40th year living in Guildford!
Baillie Road, Guildford, Surrey
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