In defence of agents: Movers can be just as bad.

Jack Terry

“Buyers are liars.” It’s an old saying among some estate agents.

Today’s video interview with south London estate agent Jack Terry, and in particular the reaction in the YT comments from some of the buyers watching, reminded me just how much people don’t understand the harsh realities of the process of selling a home.

The unseen, unpaid mountain all estate agents must climb, to get their sellers’ homes sold and earn their commission.

They must wade through around 100 mostly low-quality, time-wasting buyer enquiries for every one that actually transacts and earns them something.

If I’ve done one thing more than any other in 23 years of supplying estate agents with software systems to store databases of buyers and tenants, it’s manage the registration of millions of buyers and tenants into estate agency systems across the country. That includes all enquiries that come to them through the three large main property sites, as well as their own websites, telephone enquiries and people who walk in off the street to their offices.

The numbers of low quality, tyre-kicking, time-wasting enquiries agents have to wade through, in order to find the worthwhile ones, is staggering.

In fact it’s arguably the most important, invisible skill (good) agents possess. It’s the difference between a viable business or not. It’s the difference between getting homes sold, and not.

Every Buyer.

Every buyer registration must (if an agent is worth their salt) initially be treated as if:

1. They are a funded, proceedable, serious buyer

2. They are also a seller, both now and in future

3. They will go away with a good enough impression of the agent to tell their friends.

But, literally 95% of them are a costly waste of time that come to nothing, and take agents’ time away from more productive, serious buyers.

Have you ever wondered why an agent doesn’t call you back, even when you’re a serious buyer? It’s not because they don’t want your business, it’s because they are being swept away down the river of low quality time-wasting enquiries and lose track of time.

(It’s why good choice of technology is a must. But never mind that now.)

The point is this: I had forgotten just how angry some buyers become because they are unable to afford a home, even after saving for years. And rightly so.

But, despite all the price-puffing, guff-spreading market-pumping PR from agents, it is government policy and failure, more than anything else, that’s caused house prices to be where they are.

House prices are not the fault of estate agents, nor the sellers. (Overvaluing is 100% down to agents, but those homes don’t sell so they don’t affect house prices.)

Misplaced anger.

I witnessed misplaced anger towards an agent today, who did not deserve it, because he shared his very effective method for qualifying buyers for his clients, to stop their time (and his) being wasted by buyers who later pull out and scupper the sale, all because they hadn’t thought it through. His method directly leads to a very high success ratio, and very low fall through rate.

This means it’s in everyone’s interests: buyers, seller and himself. Yet these buyers in the comments raged at his suggestion that they should prove their interest is sincere when making an offer.

What I would say to these buyers is this: When you have spent literally months working on a transaction, for which you won’t be paid unless it completes, only for the buyer to have a ‘change of heart’ and pull out, losing you time, money and possibly even a client too, tell me you wouldn’t want to qualify out the time-wasters.

Only time-wasters would object to his methods. And time wasters are bad for everyone, and the market as a whole. will filter out time-wasting buyers as much as it will filter out poor quality estate agents.

Bad as each other.

After 25 years in this industry, I can tell you that the outrageous conduct of some of the worst agents is matched only by that of some of the worst movers. We will all be better off without them messing things up. Thanks for your openness and transparency Jack. Movers need more agents like you.


  1. This isn’t an interview. This is Charlie repeating everything he’s already said. I thought he said we were going to hear the views of an actual EA.

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