Worst House on the Street star shares ‘really important’ estate agent tricks to avoid

Phil Spencer offers tips for avoiding estate agent fees

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From bad communication to negotiating tactics, Worst House on the Street property developer Stuart Douglas spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk to share how to avoid estate agent tricks. Buyers often forget that when it comes to estate agents, they are not the customer. This is understandably confusing. After all, the agent is the person who finds the properties, shows potential buyers around and tells them how to make an offer.

Estate agents aren’t out there to trick or confuse buyers, but they’re also not there to be a friend. They are not there to help buyers get the best deal.

They are there to get the best deal for their client and to sell secondary or referral services if they can.

Which means house buyers need to advocate for themselves, ask the right questions and focus on what they need.

So, what does an estate agent do? 

An estate agent is there to sell the property at the best price possible for the seller. They often will only get paid their commission if they sell the property.

That means they’re going to be motivated to sell it, rather than it cluttering up their listings for too long. They will try to get the best price they can for it, as their commission is based on a percentage of the sale price.

This differs for online agents who sometimes take an upfront fee instead. This often means the seller has to do things like hosting their own house viewings. This means that for those who make an offer, they may end up negotiating directly with the seller.

Bad communication 

Communication is massively important in the property sector. If an estate agent doesn’t take the time to talk to their clients and let them know what’s happening with a transaction, buyers can never feel fully certain that things are progressing as they would like them to.

Stuart explained: “There can be bad communication between an agent and a potential buyer, so if you want to buy somewhere you have to make sure that your relationship with the estate agents is one in which you are confident in. This is so they can relay the information you have given them to the seller as a buyer.”

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The expert noted that for any potential buyers that are interested in a property they should write to the seller to explain their interest.

Stuart said: “Now I often think if you get to know a buyer, it’s courtesy to write the seller a letter saying who you are, say why you want to buy the house, if you’ve got family why you want to buy the house, maybe you plan on living there as there’s a school nearby.

“If you can explain to the buyer who you are and make it more personable you then have more of a chance of securing a property. There’s going to be so many people out there, if it’s a good property, who will want to buy it. 

“As much as we want to rely on our estate agents, they are working for a number of different clients. 

“So if there’s anything you can do, if you’ve got a unique selling point and you can write a letter explaining why you want the house, why you think the house is a desirable house for you and get the seller to understand a bit more about you personally, I just think that those little touches can be the difference between getting a property or not.”


Negotiating house prices can be nerve-wracking. When is it appropriate, and how should potential buyers go about it?

Potential awkwardness shouldn’t put the potential buyer off, haggling for the best house price is normal. The day-to-day reality of house buying and selling is that there is a lot of negotiating involved, and many properties sell for below the asking price.

The property expert urged buyers to stick to a set offer to avoid being gazumped by phantom offers.

Stuart explained: “When it comes to negotiating it comes down to the estate agent. Estate agents obviously want to get the best price that they can get for their client so if you come in with an offer you need to make sure that you have an offer that you’re prepared to stick to.

“An estate agent may well say well we’ve got more offers but they don’t. I think sometimes it’s almost like a game of property poker really where people are playing a game and you’re part of that game.

“As long as you plan and you decide that you have an amount you want to go to and that you’re firm with that amount, you can often start below that amount and negotiate upwards. 

“Then once you get to that amount, for me you have to stay firm and don’t be put under any pressure to go higher. It might mean that you lose the house, but set a figure that you’re comfortable with, that you think the house is worth is better.

“For estate agents, it’s their job to get the best price for a house and if you’re strong, stern and have a figure set in stone any potential issues that may arise or could arise in the negotiating phase, they’re put to bed because you’re going to be firm in your approach – I think that’s really important.”

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