Here’s a light-hearted blog piece I wrote for Ralph James Estate Agents in Redhill, Surrey after a buyer and seller got together in an attempt to diddle the agent out of their fees. The article was then picked up and published by PropertyIndustryEye.
“We recently had a case of an owner and a buyer colluding to cut us out of our commission on the sale we’d negotiated between the two of them.
Fortunately for us, they were all a bit clumsy and careless (you might even say amateur!) and we found out very easily. The sellers paid up and we’ve all now moved on, but we thought it might be useful to anyone out there with the same idea if we offered some guidance on how to do this sort of thing properly, rather than end up looking like a silly billy.
In this case the owner wanted to blame Ralph James for the effect on the property market caused by the Brexit vote. However, don’t feel limited to national events. By scouring world issues for inspiration you’ll find there’s really nothing you can’t blame your estate agent for without a bit of imagination.
So here goes, our five tips on how to make sure you don’t pay any money to an estate agent.
1. DO IT YOURSELF
Bit of an obvious one, but this is a really great way to save. Simply put your house on the market yourself, pay for all the marketing costs, employ a team of talented people, bribe Rightmove to accept a private listing, set up various social media channels and a magazine to promote the neighbourhood, stay away from work so you’re available all day every day for viewings, qualify everyone who wants to view for their financial status and moving ability, agree the terms of the sale, check the onward and downward chains are complete, liaise with everyone up and down the chain and update them all at least once a week, then once you’ve exchanged contracts you can move home with a clear conscience and no commission to pay. Easy peasy!
2. STAY WHERE YOU ARE
If you simply must use an estate agent but want to avoid paying any commission, refusing to accept any offers on your property allows you to get away scot-free. Well, not exactly get away because you won’t be going anywhere, but, on the upside, no sale means no fee. Bingo!
3. LIE LIKE A PRO
Things get serious now. Let’s say 1 & 2 just don’t work for your lifestyle and you really do want an estate agent to sell your property, but you want it done for free. As most estate agents will say no, here’s where you need to start telling lies. The best way is to lie by telephone or, if you’re brave, face-to-face. But do avoid that classic beginners mistake of doing it in writing.
Sending Whatsapp messages and emails within a week of agreeing the sale that say things like “We’ve decided not to sell” and “We’re going to rent our place out” are just a teensy-weensy bit obvious, so it’s worth considering something more original to put your estate agent off the scent. How about throwing a brainstorming night for your friends with wine and cheese to come up with ideas?
4. GET THE LAW ON YOUR SIDE
It’s vital that your conveyancer is in on the deal; you’ll only run into trouble if you employ a trustworthy solicitor. You need to ask them to confirm their willingness to lie, and to confirm they’ll deliberately withhold notifying your estate agent when you’ve exchanged contracts. This does go against The Law Society’s code of practice and could result in your solicitor being struck off and unable to practice again. However, once you explain to them how you’ll be better off, we’re fairly sure they’ll put their livelihood at risk for the sake of your personal financial gain.
5. KEEP UP THE COVER-UP
This one’s for the buyers! Now, we know it’s really exciting when you get the keys to your new home, but it’s best not to post a publicly available picture of yourself on social media standing proudly outside the property where you’ve been involved in skulduggery. Otherwise, that lovely display of disappointment you put on when the vendor mysteriously decided not to sell will completely go to waste.
We really must send our special thanks to the buyer in this case whose numptiness really helped us find them out. And hopefully their mistake will demonstrate that all you need to do to save giving the game away is to live in complete secrecy after moving in, and forever more.
We hope these handy hints will serve you well. Do you have any of your own tips on using other services without paying for them? Perhaps you’ve even been inspired to stop taking a salary at work by seeing your daily efforts as worthless? If so, we’d love to hear from you. (Actually, no we wouldn’t.)”