Not all agents are the same

December, 2018

Moving Home: Uncle Barry’s story

Uncle Barry used to live in a lovely big 4 bed detached house in North London.

But after the kids left home and he and my aunt Gene had spent a few years rattling around inside it, they decided to move into central London.

They love going to the theatre, galleries and restaurants, and given they’re in their late 70’s, driving 45m-1hr to get into town was becoming less and less appealing.

So they sold up and rented a beautiful flat (on the border of Regents Park and Marylebone) where they could hole up and plan their next move.

New lease of life

Let me tell you, moving into town (and getting closer to the action) gave my uncle and aunt a new lease of life.

Gene could be in Regents Park in seconds and Barry could meet his mates for lunch on the Marylebone High Street anytime he liked.

They were happy – Invigorated even – Everything was great.

Except the monthly rent was punitive, and aunt Gene was feeling less and less comfortable renting.

She needed the security of owning the roof over their head…

…They had to now focus on finding a flat to buy.

The search begins

So, the search began starting the daily ritual of checking Rightmove, Zoopla and Onthemarket for new property.

They even interviewed two property-buying agents to help with their search, but ultimately felt they could do it themselves given their assumption everything would be advertised on the portals.

They had a very healthy budget of £2.2m-£2.5m and their home search criteria looked like this:


  • 2 beds (1 en-suite)
  • Portered block
  • Secure parking for 1 car
  • Close to amenities


  • 3 beds (one master bedroom / one to act as an office and one to accommodate visiting grandchildren etc.)
  • Modern building
  • To be within walking distance of Marylebone High Street and Regents Park

Their focused ‘area of search’

Barry and Gene had fallen so in love with the location of their rented flat; they desperately wanted to buy it (or something similar).

This meant their property search was focused on a very small area, and they were not willing to compromise – they simply didn’t want to live anywhere else!

They spent hours with estate agents and viewed almost everything on the market (in their area of search) that was close to their budget.

Nothing ticked all the boxes on their ‘WANTS’ list.

Bottom line, £2.5m is a lot of money but it wasn’t enough to get them what they wanted in their preferred area of search.

This went on for months. Meanwhile, auntie Gene’s anxiety over renting intensified to such a degree that it even started to put a strain on their relationship.

Thankfully, things were about to change.

Someone had been paying attention

There was one estate agent that had taken them to see a number of properties, and managed to build up a bit of rapport (and trust) with my uncle.

He understood what uncle Barry wanted and needed, and was also aware of how pressing their need was to get out of rental and actually buy somewhere.

  • He called uncle Barry one day to let him know about a flat on the North side of Regents Park that he’d just been instructed on (the previous estate agent had been fired).
  • Uncle Barry had seen the property on Rightmove but dismissed it out of hand because of the location.
  • The agent insisted that it was worth his time to go see it.
  • He acknowledged it wasn’t exactly where uncle Barry wanted to be but it did have everything uncle Barry needed out of a flat (and was in budget).
  • He also did a clever thing; he asked uncle Barry whether he was aware of the bus stop directly outside the flat that takes you to the top of Marylebone High Street in exactly 11 mins?
  • It’s such a stupid little thing but none-the-less uncle Barry didn’t know this – it was new information…

And because of it, uncle Barry agreed to view the flat.

Lets look at what just happened there

The key takeaway from the above story it this – The agent was able to overcome uncle Barry’s objection to this property.

He did this by opening uncle Barry’s eyes to how making a minor compromise (a short bus trip instead of a short walk) would allow him to have his cake and eat it.

And so:

  • This new information (supplied by the estate agent) +
  • The agent’s insistence the flat really was worth viewing +
  • The modicum of trust and rapport the agent had previously built with uncle Barry on other viewings causing uncle Barry to take the agent seriously +
  • Aunt Gene’s anxiety levels requiring a purchase to happen ASAP 
  • Barry and Gene get on a bus and go look at a flat they had previously dismissed out of hand.

Can you guess what happened next?

Surprise surprise…

…Barry and Gene walk into the flat (it was on the 4th floor), head straight to the balcony that looks over Regents Park, take in the magnificent view and the rest is history.

  • Portered block
  • Secure underground parking
  • 3 bedroom (one en-suite)
  • Quick access to Marylebone high street
  • They can afford it
  • Aunt Gene is happy!

Key takeaways

  1. Uncle Barry had seen this property on Rightmove but initially dismissed it.
  2. The estate agent did not sell uncle a property he didn’t want; he sold my uncle a viewing.
  3. My uncle and aunt had spent many hours searching Rightmove for their dream property but at the end of the day they ended up making a compromise and bought something introduced to themby an estate agent.
    1. The seller of this flat must have been delighted, their agent managed to bring about a sale even though Rightmove (and a previous estate agent) had failed to generate any buyers willing to make a firm offer.
    2. Ultimately, this transaction came about because an estate agent overcame a buyer’s objections to a particular property and encouraged a viewing to happen.
    3. Variations on this theme are happening in every market (and at every price point) right across the UK.
    4. Interestingly, talk to uncle Barry now and you’d never know the estate agent had played a role – Uncle Barry found the flat (it was all his idea). There is no way his pride would allow him to fully acknowledge that an ‘estate agent’ influenced his decision to buy this property…

    …I imagine uncle Barry is not alone here.


    Proper estate agents make deals happen

    Proper estate agents take note of what buyers want, ask questions and read between the lines to understand what buyers need.

    The ‘art’ of estate agency

    Proper estate agents build rapport, trust and an understanding of what buyers need through the applicant registration process and through accompanied viewings.

    • Proper estate agents try to broaden buyers’ search criteria by listening to objections, overcoming them and suggesting properties that meet their ‘needs’ but not necessarily all their ‘wants’.
    • Proper estate agents don’t sell houses – they sell viewings!

    Important lessons for serious sellers

    Just because your property is on Rightmove, Zoopla, Primelocation or Onthemarket etc…

    …It does not follow that all the buyers (that could be perfectly happy living in it) will take action and go view it.

    Some will and some won’t.

    Some need a push like uncle Barry

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