Spot the Difference

August 3, 2023

We compare a new BBC TV series on estate agency with real life.

The BBC will broadcast a new reality show called Crazy Rich Agents on BBC2 at 9pm, Sunday 6th August. The series is designed to focus on high-end estate agency in the UK.

The producers aim to showcase a more American way of selling and buying properties – a high pressure, high energy and high risk way. But the first thing viewers of the series should bear in mind is that sales commission in the USA is about 6%. So, in addition to high pressure, energy and risk one should add high cost.

Another fundamental point that the producers of Crazy Rich Agents might have overlooked is that you cannot ‘pressure sell’ property in the UK. You can’t persuade a buyer to say yes and then get them to sign on the dotted line. For one thing, it is currently taking between 16 and 20 weeks to exchange contracts – giving buyers all the time in the world to change their minds and pull out with no penalty and no loss of deposit.

Perhaps when the property market is on fire there is an urgency to get things done quickly. But in a market which has recently been doused by a large bucket of cold water through interest rate and cost of living rises, most savvy buyers know they have the upper hand and the pressure is off.  UK estate agency doesn’t work on the will of the agent, but the often opposing desires of buyers and sellers: the agents’ job is to negotiate compromise to achieve a mutually agreeable end. Another worry is that the producers and agents of the new series may overlook the most important attribute of any estate agent – discretion. Ask NatWest’s ex-chief executive, Alison Rose, how a momentary lack of discretion worked out for her.

Crazy Rich Agents won’t lift the lid on how things are done in the UK. For that we invite you to visit us in our office, where you won’t meet apparently inexperienced negotiators with a habit of using inappropriate language while looking for the main chance and grabbing 15 minutes of fame. In our office you’ll find sensible, agreeable, friendly people with your best interests at heart. As likely as not they will also be born and bred in the area, so they have a huge amount to give in experience and local knowledge. Nor do our personnel treat properties as commodities but as people’s much loved and valuable homes. That is the difference between a reality show and real life.

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