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Mary Portas's call for `warts-and-all' details

Mary Portas's call for `warts-and-all' details
Mary Portas's call for `warts-and-all' details

Estate agents who tell the truth have a better chance of getting buyers on their side.

Journalist Mary Portas said that was the only way they would overcome the difficult state of the housing market in her TV series Mary Portas: Secret Shopper for Channel 4.

Are buyers really enthused by particulars which warn: 'No back garden', as the programme suggested?

The lesson of the programme, made in conjunction with north London agents Martyn Gerrard, is that buyers often adjust their expectations accordingly, and often find other virtues in a property.

But agents themselves seem divided by Portas's argument.

Many feel that it is up to good agents to make sure they provide a totally honest and transparent view of the property and offer our in-depth local knowledge and expertise.

However Trevor Kent, former president of the National Association of the Estate Agents (NAEA), is less impressed.

He said: Mary Portas doesn't grasp the fact that the staff of an estate agency are not like those in other shops, because their customers have not yet seen the goods."

"An estate agency office is merely the conduit to get them to see the goods - to view a property. In that case, highlighting problems with a property could be counter-productive and is certainly not serving a vendor's best interests, although the vendor is footing the agent's bill."

However warts-and-all descriptions of homes for sale, including one famous warning that 'the walls are riddled with damp' was a famous marketing technique used by Chelsea estate agent Roy Brooks back in the 1960s.

It made his business a huge success, and turned him into one of the most famous estate agents in Britain.

At that time, of course, property prices were starting to lift off.

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