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Of Mice and Men in Suits

As a nation that still washes its own cars in a bid to save a tenner, that religiously collects supermarket loyalty points and that baulks at the idea of tipping overworked restaurant staff and hotel porters, Brits are happy to hand over £3-5,000 to an estate agent who, short of putting your house on Rightmove, has done little to earn such a generous stipend. One day very soon people who book their flights online without feeling the need to hand over a slice of the action to a travel agent will come to their senses and realise that they are paying high street estate agents a King’s ransom for very little in the way of added value. With a click of the mouse and payment of a flat fee of a few hundred quid you can achieve exactly the same results with an online estate agent as with any number of high street “suits.” I just don’t understand this. As an American who made England his home many years ago, I wonder if it’s something to do with the class system and that vestige of deference that Brits seem to have for anyone in formal attire. We no longer worship doctors, our MPs have been tarnished by expenses scanals and Plebgate and our entertainment icons… well I best stop there. So why the shyness when asking for value from high street estate agents? The trouble is the agent’s lavish commission is but a drop in ocean when your house has been sold for £700k and you bought it five years ago for £500k. A couple of extra grand doesn’t seem like much at the time, but think about what you could do with that money. It’s your money. You have earned it by sitting out the recession, keeping up the mortgage payments and carrying out home improvements. Why hand any more than you have to over to some guy you met for the first time three weeks ago? As John Steinbeck might have said: “why let them live off the fat of your lan’?”

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