David Pollock the key to taking the pain out of buying or selling your home

PUBLISHED: 12:29 16 August 2011

David Pollock

David Pollock

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Lunch with an estate agent is fortunately not all talk about 'gazumping'

»Lunch with an estate agent doesn’t usually sound like too exciting a proposition. When I get the invitation to interview David Pollock, I imagine sitting across from a tough-talking designer suit with a Bluetooth headset surgically attached to his ear.

Still, I accept the invitation since research into Pollock, the MD of West Hampstead- based estate agency Greene and Co, tells me he may be a little bit more interesting than I first expect.

Pollock has had 34 years’ experience as an estate agent and he’s decided to put it all into a book – 101 Things Your Estate Agent Should Tell You – which seems like it could come in handy if I were buying or selling a house.

The book is a straightforward guide to what to do when you are in that position. It includes the property phenomena gazumping and gazundering (apparently from the Yiddish gezumph meaning overcharge). But that’s as far as the estate agent jargon goes, thankfully.

Estate agents are generally on a par with politicians and bankers (and maybe journalists) in terms of public opinion. It’s a shame because I’m sure that some of them are really nice.

During lunch at a cool Vietnamese café, Pollock tells me why they get such a bad wrap. “It happens for two reasons. The first is that we are serving two separate and conflicting interests, that of a buyer, who wants to pay the least money and that of a seller who wants make the most money,” he says, illustrating with the salt and pepper pots.

“The second is that the industry is unregulated, which means valuations are unregulated. Unfortunately, that means that there are a lot of bad agents out there.”

Pollock isn’t the nightmare I was expecting. He isn’t even wearing a tie, never mind a Bluetooth headset. Apparently, he uses psychotherapists to coach his agents into understanding people’s motivations and feelings. Maybe this is why Pollock’s company was the subject of a BBC documentary a few years ago.

“We had the BBC cameras in the office for six months,” says Pollock. “Initially, I said no. I thought they were going to attempt to portray us in a bad light. But we eventually gave in.”

After the show was over, the producer suggested that the 51-year-old put his 34 years of industry knowledge into a book. So he did.

Reactions to the book have been mixed. “My mother said the picture on the front was rubbish,” he says. The picture on the front is of him.

That isn’t the only criticism he’s had. A lot of agents have been very publicly annoyed with him for suggesting that sellers put their houses up with a few agents, to get the best sale. “Introducing that competition makes every agent work harder for the seller – even though the commission is a bit higher,” he says, sipping his lemonade.

At that point, I realise the value of having an experienced estate agent at your fingertips. Whatever you think of estate agents, with Pollock’s advice, perhaps house buying and selling wouldn’t be the angst-filled process that many people go through. Maybe estate agents aren’t so bad after all.

The waitress brings our bill. “Is that you on the book?” she exclaims, picking up the copy Pollock brought with him and turning it over, reading down the blurb.

“You’re right, estate agents do rip you off,” she says, before collecting the money and wandering off.

It seems that, even after 34 years, Pollock still has his work cut out.

n 101 Things Your Estate Agent Should Tell You When Buying Or Selling A House is priced £9.99.

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