One of my key roles as manager of a busy estate agents in London was overseeing the pipeline and making sure expectations were set by my staff at the point of agreeing any sale. The first thing we needed to know was exactly where the money was coming from and confirmation of that from brokers, IFA’s or banks – this is a legal requirement, but sadly something not all agents adhere to. We needed to see solicitors instructed within 48hrs, and the mortgage valuation/survey booked within the first two weeks – the sooner the buyers were financially committed, the more reassured both the seller and we would be. It also made dealing with any problems on surveys etc easier to manage if the seller felt the buyer had moved quickly from the off. Building good relationships with the buyer was also important so that if they were having any problems behind the scenes ie financial or personal, they would feel more comfortable being open about them and therefore we could all work towards a resolution. There is nothing more frustrating than people ignoring calls or emails and it can often be avoided. My daily mantra’s would be ‘COMMUNICATION COMMUNICATION COMMUNICATION’ and ‘ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS!’.

This June, we found clients who were moving down to Hampshire from the Midlands to be closer to their grandchildren a lovely house with no onward chain just outside Winchester. They had agreed a sale on their house to buyers who were selling theirs to an investor – a nice simple chain…or so we thought. As always, we set expectations on timescales to all parties from day one and everyone agreed to work towards a completion in September. Both our clients and their buyers were ready to exchange in early August, however at this point we got the news that the investor had gone away until September and would exchange then. This then became a common theme for the next few months, with all sorts of excuses being thrown around and the agent at the bottom seemed to be more than happy to except them without probing deeper about his finances. There was clearly a problem, however the fact that both our clients house, plus the one they were buying here had taken so long to sell meant everyone was reluctant to give ultimatums or go back on the market. Plus the fact that this investor had not only spent money on surveys, but also had actually signed his contract and was still incurring solicitors costs. Therefore his actions did give us some small glimmer of hope that we weren’t all chasing fools gold. Finally, the money came in last week and contracts exchanged on Friday – however it has taken a toll on our elderly clients health. They have suffered from so much stress and lack of sleep over the last few months, their house has been packed up in boxes and their lives have been on hold. An awful predicament that nobody should have to be put through, and it could have easily been avoided if the right questions had been asked from day one.

Luckily our clients still had their wonderful humour in tact, the husband left us a message just after he heard it had all gone through to say he was swinging from the chandelier with a bottle of scotch in his hand – bless him!