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Estate Agents' Dodgy Practices Outlined in Telegraph

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Surprised this hasn't already been posted. Partly explains how EAs are staying in business despite sales volume collapsing:

The dodgy estate agent tactics that leave buyers and sellers out of pocket

There’s a joke among estate agents that they no longer sell houses – instead, they increasingly profit from mortgage broking and conveyancing services, causing buyers and sellers to lose out. 

“It’s all about selling mortgages these days,” said Jenny*, who has worked in the industry for 10 years at a large chain based in the South East.

Jenny has come forward to blow the whistle on dodgy estate agent practices that leave customers thousands of pounds out of pocket. “They put this blind faith into their estate agent and that is being abused, pure and simple,” she said.

“Most people only go through this process two or three times in their life. They don’t know enough to understand what is being done to them.” Pressure to sell mortgages means both sellers and buyers are missing out. 

Sellers are losing money because they are being deliberately put off high bids from buyers with independent mortgages, she said. “Most people for the sake of a couple of thousand pounds will go with the [offer] they’ve been told has more certainty,” Jenny explained.

“So you just put both offers to the homeowner and say: ‘This one offered £2,000 less but they are doing everything in-house and it is far more likely [the sale] will go through. If you go with the person who’s offered £2,000 more, they are using their own solicitors and their own mortgage services so we can’t make any guarantees.’”

Sometimes a vendor agrees only to accept offers “financially verified” by the estate agent, Jenny added, giving the estate agent free rein to reject independent buyers outright. And the tricks don’t stop there. Buyers at Jenny’s firm are told they can get a £1,000 “buyer’s incentive” discount if they use in-house mortgage and conveyancing services – but in reality this is shaved off their bid to the seller.

Buyers are also told they will become a “hot buyer” if they see the estate agent’s mortgage broker, giving them special access to a “premium buyer’s list” of houses only available to them.

Not only does the seller miss out with the limited pool of buyers, but Jenny warned that there was a sting in the tail for those who met the broker too.

“The information is not confidential. When you’re sitting in the middle of an office having a conversation with a mortgage broker, your details are not being kept secret,” she said.

“The data protection side of it is just terrible. Information is entered on a computer where it is held at head office – that’s fine – but when I as an agent go to a printer and find copies of someone’s paperwork and bank statements that a mortgage broker has photocopied and forgotten about, I can get my hands on so much of someone’s information.”

And, according to Jenny, many agents use that information to drive up buyers’ bids. “While we can’t tell [the seller] exactly what the buyer can afford, you can carefully say: ‘Oh, I think there might be more in the pot, do you want me to go back to them?’”

You can bounce back and forward several times until you reach that top figure, safe in the knowledge that you know what that amount is, she said.

Mortgage lending is big business – so it is easy to see why agents’ focus has shifted. The largest mortgage broker in Britain is now an estate agent, Countrywide, which arranged mortgages totalling £12.2bn in 2015, generating £81m in income.

Meanwhile, Jenny’s employer makes £600 from each buyer who takes out a mortgage through the firm, as well as commission from the mortgage lender. It brokered £4.4bn of mortgages in 2014 – more than the £4.3bn it sold in property.

Paula Higgins, chief executive of the Homeowner’s Alliance, said such behaviour among estate agents was becoming “common practice” and blamed the lack of regulation. 

She said: “Agents should be focused on securing the best deal for the seller, not the best option for themselves. By employing these underhand tactics the buyer and seller lose out. Only the agent wins.”

*Jenny’s name has been changed


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14 minutes ago, rantnrave said:

“They put this blind faith into their estate agent and that is being abused, pure and simple,” she said

Well you can't fix stupid :rolleyes:

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This has been true since the days of endowments.

Less dodgy, more desperate - bricks + mortar EAs have shit cash flow. Theyll have even sh1ttier cashflow when letting fees are banned.

Id suggest Jenny starts enquiring for upcoming vacnies at the local topless bar ASAP.



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