Guest Blog: 8 reasons to use an estate agent

Recently there has been a lot of online and offline column inches dedicated to privately selling your property. Only last week we saw the OFT come out and suggest consumers consider “private seller platforms”.

We asked Steve Hatch, a director at North London estate agency Castles, who is passionate about this topic, to guest blog for us and give us his reasons on why selling privately online is a bad idea.

Prospective buyers who come to view your property could well be looking at your car, your identity, your family, and your future! Why would you risk all that to avoid paying a fee to an estate agent?

Property Details

Most people have a camera on their phone or own a digital camera these days but that doesn’t make us all professional photographers.

Your local estate agency may well use a professional photographer; or will have trained in the field of residential property photography and use a professional camera and equipment. We do this to ensure that your property – the externals and internals – are well represented and portrayed in a manner that will encourage people to view the property.

Car key theft

Where do we typically leave our car keys…near the front door. Thieves target private sellers deliberately. Professional thieves know that private sellers are easy to distract as they are so pre-occupied with trying, so hard, to sell their home.

Houses with drives are especially vulnerable (for some reason many people feel the photo looks better with their expensive car parked on the drive). An experienced estate agent will spot a bogus buyer a mile off.

Identity theft

Bank statements tend to be left anywhere within the safety of ones own home. An experienced agent will conduct and control the viewing. Private sellers often let people walk around a second time unaccompanied.

An experienced Estate Agent knows how to balance a viewing without letting a buyer out of their sight – the slightest unusual behaviour is instinctively sensed.

Just at the point of exchange…

A private seller is likely to miss all the subtle clues that an experienced agent will pick up on. How many private buyers slap themselves on the back for saving on estate agents fees only to get blackmailed out of thousands, of pounds just before exchange of contracts? What are your options? Reduce drastically, or lose your buyer, plus the home you thought you were about to buy.

You are the weakest link

Add to this the pressure of everyone else in the chain of transactions not being able to move because of your buyer! Very seldom does a seller realise that by going it alone without the experience of an expert behind them, actually makes them a potentially weak link and high risk buyer in the eyes of another vendor, and especially the vendors agent who will have a moral duty to flag this up at the point of an offer.

Personal safety

A private seller will not want to get off to a strained start by asking for extra contact details, work numbers, email addresses, number plates, solicitor details etc. Add to that the sense of excitement at the prospect of the viewing! An experienced agent will not only take care of their own staff safety, but they will also do this automatically for their clients. Part of the filtering process is listening to the response to these questions. An experienced agent will sense any evasiveness.

Negotiations and Re-negotiations

A private seller is rarely polished in the art of negotiating, let alone re-negotiating when it comes to property. Property negotiations are a very different beast to general sales negotiations. An experienced agent will have built up a thorough understanding of their client, their wants, needs and emotions. These are all invaluable tools that the private seller will rarely have at their disposal.

Making the move actually happen

The vast majority of people are ultimately trying to achieve one thing when selling – the ability to move! Of course they want to do well financially, but most people simply want to move to their new home in a calm, confident and reassured fashion. In my experience, most people are prepared to pay a little extra for peace of mind, and the enhanced probability of it actually happening. Realistically this is far more likely to happen in the hands of a local professional. We know what we are doing, and take a pride in what we do, this is where the no sale – no fee comes in!

Written by Steve Hatch

Director at Castles Estate Agents – Harringay Branch

February 23, 2010 at 2:40 PM 13 comments recognised as one of the UK’s smartest businesses

We are delighted to announce that we have been chosen as a winner of’s inaugural ‘Smarta 100’ by a judging panel including BBC’s Dragons Den Deborah Meaden and other leading entrepreneurs such as Bebo Founder Michael Birch.

The Smarta 100 is the ultimate business accolade, recognizing the UK’s smartest entrepreneurial businesses. During the selection process says it:

“…uncovered remarkable companies who have gone the extra mile to differentiate themselves from the market or found clever ways to compete, from their marketing plan to their ethical stance. The result is a fascinating insight into the unique business ideas that are thriving in the current economic climate.”

We’ve had a good run of awards in the last six months being named as the UK’s Best Property Portal at the Daily Mail UK Residential Property Awards in October and more recently we were named Best Real Estate Website of the Year at the Website of the Year awards – Britain’s most important people’s choice award for websites.

Here’s what Deborah Meaden said about the Smarta 100 award:

“Discovering great new businesses is a passion of mine as is encouraging businesses to think and work better. The Smarta 100 does both of these things – and celebrates the best of British business at the same time. I was delighted to see ambitious people saving hard and raising finances to turn their ideas into flourishing businesses.”

For a full list of Smarta 100 winners, click here

February 22, 2010 at 9:48 AM Leave a comment

Five To View: A Lotto Property in Cirencester

Euromillions lottery winners Nigel Page, 43, and his partner Justine Laycock, 41

Hot property: Nigel Page, 43, and his partner Justine Laycock, 41

Last week’s Euromillions result sparked off hypothetical “What would you do with that much money?” conversations across the nation but particularly in Cirencester, the home town of winners Nigel Page and Justine Laycock –  where local agents will no doubt be hoping they buy their post-win home.

So, you lucky couple, don’t up sticks and move to Monaco, Marbella, or some other millionaires’ paradise. There’s plenty to offer buyers with unlimited budgets in and around the town. Here’s five to view.

(Click on pics for more images & full property details)




Price £2,500,000


Price £1,950,000


Price £1,500,000


Price £1,250,000

February 18, 2010 at 6:33 PM 5 comments

Why is a Brighton Grand Design being sold so soon?

Fans of Channel 4 TV show Grand Designs will recognise this super-shiny new modernist home in Brighton, which featured on our screens in April last year. But I’m surprised it’s on the market – for £3.5 million – quite so soon as I had thought the creators – local couple Barry and Julie Surtees – were going to live in the thing rather than sell it off.

The sale is also a surprise given the levels of pain the couple went through  in front of the Channel 4 cameras (and Kevin McCloud’s withering wit) to get the project finished.

But is it a liveable space? I have to admit that many of these ultra-clever, uber-contemporary properties leave me a bit cold – they just don’t seem particularly homely – but there are some pleasingly quirky elements that do tickle my Bauhaus-style fancy.

Take the fourth-floor living area called ‘the pod’, for example, with its brightly coloured, super-sized sofas and that motorbike on the wall; although I’m not sure if Kevin McCloud would have approved of such ‘mass market’ frivolity.

But it’s the wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows that I really love – and I’m astonished that Surtees can bear to leave those incredible views behind.

For more information, call Hamptons International (Brighton and Hove) on 0843 2816 026.

February 17, 2010 at 4:46 PM 7 comments

Couple cause a stir by adopting pink colour on parish house after planning permission rejected.

A couple in the picturesque Worcestershire parish of Acton Beauchamp have stirred up a colourful storm by giving their property a bright pink makeover, prompting complaints from neighbours keener on sober hues.

Residents in the parish have been grumbling to officials that the home of James Hall and his wife, which is famed locally for its pink frontage, is out of place among the predominantly black and white exteriors of local homes.

Having only recently applied for retrospective planning permission – the house was painted in its ‘Rose Madder’ shade of pink two years ago – the Halls were turned down and ordered by the local council to return their walls to a non-controversial white.

Supermodel Jordan embrances pink

Jordan: Pretty in pink, but would she paint her home that colour?

But Mrs Hall, who bought the house with her husband in 1984, told a newspaper: “This paint colour was not chosen willy-nilly or on a whim. We didn’t wake up one morning and say ‘Ooh I feel like Jordan, let’s paint our house pink’.”

Clearly not a pair to be defeated, however, the couple have now lodged an appeal to have their 400-year old property de-listed, which, if granted, would allow them continue living in the pink.

And as fellow resident of a brightly coloured house – mine is a pretty peach shade – I’m hoping the couple come out smelling of, well, roses.

February 9, 2010 at 6:08 PM 1 comment

Older Posts Newer Posts

Zoopla Mobile & Tablet Apps

Grab the App

Search over 1 million properties for sale or to rent on our site from more than 18,000 agents and developers, including all of the UK's leading names.

Posts delivered hot and fresh to your inbox. Signup for free to subscribe, (No spam... ever) and join over 16,000 others.

Enter your email address below:

Recent Posts

Follow Zoopla


About the Zoopla blog

The Zoopla property blog is maintained and edited by the Web Content Editor @ Zoopla Property Group Ltd Myra Butterworth.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 520 other followers

%d bloggers like this: