Dylan Williams, Estate Agent and Valuer for Swansea Estate Agents Rees Richards & Partners, shares an insight into his typical working day with readers of property magazine, Estate Agent News.
Make no mistake, it’s tough being an estate agent in Swansea. Honest.
Whilst all the ‘city slickers’ were heading in to Swansea to grab their morning coffee, I was heading off towards the surfer’s paradise, Llangennith in the beautiful Gower Peninsula to view Tankey Lake Livery, a well-established holiday letting and livery business, now on the market with us for £1,050,000.
Why, you may ask, is it tough? Because when you get to Gower, even in the middle of winter, you don’t want to leave – and when you are visiting a beautiful 4 bedroomed farmhouse, with 3 additional holiday rental cottages, set in 31 acres with incredible farmland views towards the South Gower Coast, leaving this property was harder than most. Gower is a setting of dreams, and buying this particular letting business will, I’m sure, be the dream of many. For one lucky buyer, that dream will become reality, just 2 miles from this beautiful beach at Llangennith.
Rees Richards has been managing property for sale and to let in Swansea and on the Gower Peninsula since 1845, so you could say we are somewhat used to the area! However, 1845 is young compared to the village of Llangennith, which dates back to the 6th Century, and even the property I’m visiting was first built around 1600. Right now all I can focus on is how breath-taking the Gower scenery is. If I’m honest, viewing properties in Gower is the nicest part of my job!
Viewing complete, I’m not quite done with dreams for the day. Heading back to the office, I drive past another one of our Gower properties, this time a farm in Murton in Bishopston – and I’m again reminded that, just 6 miles from central Swansea, dream properties are a reality in Gower, especially if horse riding is your passion. Manselfield Farm, apart from being an exceptionally attractive, modernised farmhouse, has a barn practically tailor made for running an indoor school, as well as 4 Loose Boxes with walkway/feed passage to the front. Almost all the houses in this area are distinctive, and you can’t help but be impressed.
I was never into fairy stories as a kid but when it all goes well, being an estate agent in Gower can feel a bit like waving a magic wand. Property sales are often making someone’s dream come true, for both buyer and seller. I think that, more than anything else, is what keeps me motivated.
For me at least, the dreaming is over for today, as an afternoon of paperwork in the Swansea office beckons. The part of the job that buyers and sellers don’t see is far less glamorous, returning the calls that I missed while out of signal, completing forms, handling the finances and chasing up solicitors, buyers and sellers to make sure that Friday’s completions are all going to run smoothly.
Chasing up is probably the most frustrating part of being an estate agent, because it’s not something clients see. I’m sure some people think we walk around a property, pick a figure out of the air and ‘stick it on Rightmove’! There’s far more to a career in property than that, a career as a Chartered Surveyor takes years of study. Those ‘quick valuations’ come from years of experience – ‘sticking it on Rightmove’ is the easy bit. There’s a lot of work that clients don’t see. Liaising between buyer, seller, mortgage companies and lawyers is where we really earn our fee.
If a sale falls through, which it occasionally does, (and it’s usually out of our control), or even if there is a delay, I know that my bad-news call will be heartbreaking for the recipient. At least by chasing and staying on top of the sale, we know in advance if a lawyer is off sick, we know if the buyer’s mortgage has fallen through sooner rather than later and we can do our part to sort things out as soon as possible. Keeping things on track and being the main point of contact is the best way to avoid delayed completions, or worse, the transaction falling through altogether.
I read a report the other day claiming that a leading online estate agent (who only markets the property until an offer is received) saw just 14% of their subject to contract sales actually go through to completion. That’s quite shocking, because every failure to complete hits traditional estate agents like us really hard.
If I had to make those calls to 86% of my clients, telling them that completion is delayed or the sale has fallen through, I don’t think I could do the job – we build a personal relationship with our clients and you naturally hate seeing their dreams fall through. That’s why today, I’ll gladly spend the afternoon in the office, doing the boring nuts and bolts part of my job – knowing I’ll have happy clients come Friday!
After the chasing, I won’t be going home at 5.30pm, because I’m valuing a property in Morriston after work. Our clients often work the hours we do, so an estate agent’s job is not for people with a nine-to-five mindset.
Selling dream homes in Swansea and the Gower isn’t always a dream for the estate agent behind the scenes. However, come Friday, (fingers crossed), seeing more happy clients complete the purchase of their dream homes will make it all worthwhile!