Estate agent speak
Excited about that well-presented studio flat in Abbeville Village? Visions of semi-rural bohemia? Well it's probably a dingy cupboard on a main road in Brixton. Estate agents are increasingly under scrutiny for the way they polish London's property turds, whether areas or dwellings. Here's a handy guide
Location, location, locationA survey by mortgage company The One Account last year found that a fifth of estate agents admitted to using an alternative name for an area to add value to a property they were trying to sell, and more than one in ten admitted exaggerating the geography of a location to make a property more desirable. We spoke to Miles Shipside, commercial director of RightMove and a London estate agent for 17 years, about agents’ obsession with turning London into a rural idyll.
They call it…
Everyone else calls it…
Bond Street East
Why make-up these names?
Miles Shipside: London can be faceless so people are attracted to the idea of a community, with local pubs and shops where everyone knows you. The key job of an estate agent is to get people engaged with what they are advertising and how we advertise areas is one way of doing it. But we are not allowed to lie about postal codes, that is illegal.
When did this phenomenon start?
MS: The rather imaginative descriptions you might have seen are a relatively recent phenomenon and are likely to date from one of the periods when London house prices fell marginally, such as in 2003, when estate agents would try and find any reason to make the property more attractive.
How much can having a rural-sounding location add to the value of a property?
MS: People will pay 10 per cent more for the village association. But it’s more about increasing the saleability rather than adding to the value. Saying that a property is in a village can be that added factor that gets people to view the property.
Is this trend going to continue?
MS: People are becoming ever more inventive, and there’s also an obsession with London buyers to spot the latest up-and-coming areas and as traditional areas become more expensive there is pressure to find new ones with catchy-sounding locations. Sometimes if an area is described as a village, it will eventually become one as it will attract the sort of people who are interested in living in that sort of community.
Isn’t it a bit of a scam?
MS: It’s not something we should be ashamed of – after all, estate agents are employed to get the best price for the property they are trying to sell.
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