Send In The Clowns….Don’t Bother They’re Here.

Send In The Clowns….Don’t Bother They’re Here.

Send in the Clowns…. Don’t bother they’re here.

Of course, everyone remembers that final line from the 1973 musical, A little Night Music.

The song has recently cropped up as background to the very imaginative Audi adverts.

Intelligent driving being the theme from Audi as it depicts a series of ‘clowns’ on the road, in dangerous circumstances and, how Audi cars manage to avoid them.

Well, estate agency has its very own ‘clowns’ that every homeowner should avoid. And , just like coulrophobia (a fear of clowns), I fear this bizarre trend will cause real damage to the U.K property market.

What’s my definition of an estate agency ‘clown’.

Quite simply, it’s when an agency chooses to mislead and manipulate homeowners by compromising its integrity.  And compounds the fault by attempting to appear innovative, disruptive and forward-thinking.

When we deconstruct the offering of any estate agency, it comes down to self-worth and hourly rate.  I’m prepared to accept that the vast majority of estate agents, whether high street, hybrid or online are reasonably competent and all of them could sell your home.

What grates, however, is the agency that offers a low fixed fee and attempts to convince that they offer the same service, as those more expensive.  Said differently, only our agency offers real value.

I’ve made reference in previous posts about the excellent blog from Lancaster estate agent, Michelle Gallagher.  Time is the essence of her defence on the often debated issue of agency fees.  Michelle takes a typical sale of a three bedroom semi in Lancaster and applies time-management principles to the process.

From market appraisal, to brochure preparation, internet uploads, arranging viewings, conducting viewings, follow-ups, offer negotiations and sales progression, Michelle meticulously argues the need for time.  Time to do things right.

Her conclusion was that this particular home actually took 54 hours of work to complete.  It wasn’t an exceptionally protracted process, either.

There is nothing in her report that I wouldn’t want to happen.  Nothing that might have been improved by technology.  Just a typical day in the life of an extremely competent estate agency.

Let’s change the focus now, from time, to value.

And for argument sake, downplay the average number of hours per completion from 54 to 40 hours.

Ignore the possibility of a sale falling though and the agency being paid nothing for their time and expense.

Let’s also assume that it’s a profession that, although unregulated, can be extremely demanding when it comes to the Law and Local Trading Standards.  There is a mountain of regulations from Anti-Money-Laundering to Business Protection from Misleading Advertising for every agency to take on board.

I don’t think it unreasonable to suggest that £50 should be the minimum hourly rate for estate agency work.  Those with more experience might be worth double or more.

Do the maths.

£50 x 40 hours.


For a typical completed sale.

Then, tell me how the agencies that offer to sell your home, can do so for £995, £895 or less?

The ‘clowns’ then attempt the confusion game.  Amid a routine of slapstick and juvenile behaviour, they claim they are ‘just as good as the high-street, only cheaper”.

And there are homeowners out there that believe this nonsense.

Agencies will even justify these stupid fees with the old ‘technology’ excuse of streamlining their efficiency.  Or with the equally absurd hybrid model that demands every ‘local property expert’  be, as Seth Godin puts it,  a “cog in a digital marketplace”.

Let’s take that seemingly attractive fee of £895

The ‘local property expert’.  They require a slice.

The government might be inclined to want a piece.  If ever they make a profit.

And with every clown-like T.V ad, the possibility of actually making one disappears further over the horizon.

And so they attempt to increase the contribution via a series of murky referral fees.

The disappointing thing about this comedy of errors?

It’s the response of some agents that believe if you can’t beat them, join them.

Short-term thinking from those agencies that have no clue about the potential upside that this ‘freak-show’ offers.

Not everything was hunky-dory’ in the world of estate agency, a few years back.

But now, any homeowner must seriously question whether it’s a clown or a real estate agency they are instructing.

The better agencies will always adapt and thrive.  They understand that cutting corners and reducing fees is not the answer.

The would-be clowns of the estate agency sector will at least keep themselves entertained, as the show ends for them.

If you would like advice on how to avoid these clowns, get in touch by email: [email protected]

Or call, 07875141436

Thanks as always for reading this far.

We’re always happy to help.






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