Fees glorious fees

Yesterday I spent most of the day at the Royal Bank of Scotland Roadshow in London where among the speakers were Grenville Turner, group chief executive of Countrywide and Phil Spencer of Location, Location,
Location fame.

There were some very interesting points raised and one morsel that
caught my attention was the line “it is the housing market that leads us
into recession, and it is the housing market that will lead us out”.

It was good to hear from Grenville, always an interesting speaker, his
views on fees in this market which I wholeheartedly agree with.

It is essential in this market that we all charge to reflect what our
services are worth. There is no sense in all of us battering fees down
in a desperate scramble for business as it does us all a disservice. It
undermines our level of professionalism, our qualifications, and the
value we actually add to the client.

Grenville stated that in the UK fees are always criticised, but actually
when looked at from a world-wide perspective people in the UK actually
pay the lowest fees.

In this market, good advice makes a difference and can save the
client even more than it may have in the easy times when everyone is
trying to lend at ridiculous rates.

It was also mooted that some lenders may be looking at products that do
not pay a proc fee. If a broker is not used to charging a
professional fee, it is harder to change, and thus harder to make a
decent living so the temptation – to the more unscrupulous
broker – is to avoid recommending these products which may be more
beneficial to a client.

Being able to charge a fee helps to keep brokers truly independent.

It was also refreshing to hear that Countrywide themselves have begun to
see some green shoots, especially in that over the last seven weeks
transactions have not decreased.

While I still believe house prices may have a little more to go in their fall, I think we may be close to the equilibrium point. Once this is reached, and confidence returns to the market, I agree that the housing market itself will begin to drag us back out again – albeit slowly and surely.