So, we've had our house on the market for a little over twelve months. During that time we've had minimal interest. As you most likely know, the UK housing market has been pretty much broken for the last few years.
We were originally with Jane Earl, an Internet-based estate agent who charged a much lower (though up-front) fee than would a traditional agent. Turns out she charged too little, as she announced at the end of last year that she would need to wind up the business due to financial losses. Honourably, she arranged to continue our online listing through another company, Emove.
We had only recently talked about that fact that, despite our twelve months being up, our house was still showing online. Then Gemma had an email from one Beth Rodwell, head of Property Sales at Emove:
Your agreement with Jane Earl expired on 29.03.2012 therefore we have now fulfilled our initial commitment to you. Would you like to renew your listing with us for a further 12 months for a reduced fee of £199?
I have someone who would like to view.
Mmm. What a pleasant email. It's no-nonsense, to the point, and will you look at that, Beth has only garnered some interest in our house. But blast it to the moon, we must renew our contract before we get to meet the interested party. Gemma replied:
We will not be renewing the service at this time, but as we paid for 12 months with the estate agency and had no viewings in that time we would be very grateful if you could send the clients our way.
Beth soon wrote back:
I am afraid I cannot do that. Infact we should have removed your listing on 29.03.2012 and if we had of done then we would not have generated the 2 viewing enquiries that we had today. You may have paid Jane Earl a listing fee and had no viewings up until now, however that is neither their fault nor ours, it is down general market conditions. The market has picked up now and I am confident that we can sell your property for you.
We have offered you a service for FREE over the last 4-5 months and we have manually generated you weekly reports and handled a few viewing enquiries which uses the time of our administration charges. I am afraid that unless you are willing to re-list with us at the extremely discounted rate offered then I will have to remove your listing with immediate effect. If you chose to instruct a local agent and you attract the same viewers or any viewer through them I can assure you that you will pay a lot more than £199 for a sale.
What was wrong with us, thinking that Beth worked for some kind of charity? How selfish of us! And how mean it was to suspect, even for one moment, that Beth might be inventing some interest to entice us into renewing with her company. We are bad people, and I just had to let Beth know how sorry I was:
Tom here, Gemma's partner. Gemma kindly forwarded me your email, as I wanted the opportunity to reply.
Thank you everso for clarifying the position regarding the two viewing enquiries you say you have had. I agree this interest is a clear sign that the property market is now picking up. I guess I have been foolish to have listened to the general predictions of a fall in UK house prices of between 2% and 12% in 2012. I am sad that we will now never get to meet these potential buyers; it is such a shame that they foolishly timed their interest badly.
I was sorry to learn that you suffered the inconvenience (not to mention the expense) of having to deal with the two recent enquiries, especially as you did us the favour of forgetting to remove our listing at the end of March. This is on top of the cost of the weekly reports, not to mention the 'other viewing enquiries' (we recall only one enquiry, but no viewing came of this; our failing memories must be to blame for our failure to recollect the other buyers you sent our way). This is particularly troubling to my conscience because, as you note in your email, you have generously offered us a service for FREE (your caps) over the last few months. Who says philanthropy is dead? Not I. We regret the disappointment our custom has clearly caused, and I apologise for your decision to take on the remainder of the Jane Earl contract. Why, we didn't even ask you to take us under your wing! I just know that you did it out of the goodness of your collective hearts.
You are correct; if we sold our house through a local estate agent we would for sure pay significantly more than the £199 fee you have proposed. I suppose we must find crumbs of comfort in the fact that the local estate agent will charge their fee only if they successfully sell the property.
Whilst tempted by your kind invitation (Gemma thought it to be a tad passive-aggressive, but I wouldn't hear of it), I feel that we cannot accept the offer to renew for another period of twelve months. We have been such poor customers that I would not wish for a second to jeopardise your company's prosperity. I fear that if we were to renew, you would surely be calling in the receivers within a few short months.
Thank you once again for all of your hard work.
I can only hope that we can be forgiven, but I fear that we are surely going to hell.