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FabulousSophie

A sign of EA desperation?

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This letter requesting property advice is today's Telegraph. Perhaps a sign EAs are getting desperate?

Q We instructed an estate agent to sell a house and, after six months, it failed to sell. We heard little from them and assumed the contract was over since it stated 24 weeks on the agreement.

Now, they have written to my daughter demanding a fee of £350 plus VAT. We didn’t receive that letter as she had moved and a subsequent menacing letter was received a few months later threatening court, bailiffs, and taking a charge on the property. It was totally unacceptable and unnecessary, and they had made no attempt to discuss the matter.

They say that their agreement never ends and if a house fails to sell a fee is still due, despite the fact they discontinued marketing and did not contact us. They are adamant that they are in the right.

We feel that it was hardly our fault it didn’t sell – it was a lacklustre campaign, resulting in few viewings. Are they right in telling us that there was no end date on the contract and therefore this fee is due? We have not withdrawn nor cancelled the sale – it simply petered out and we thought it had ended.

We have also contacted Which? and it is firmly of the opinion that these terms breach our rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 in that they are ambiguous, unclear and unfair to a consumer. It puts us at a severe disadvantage of having no sale and yet we are still being charged. It advises us to write to the company putting this point of view, and to inform Trading Standards. What should we do?

JF, by email

A I must say I have never come across a case where an estate agent’s contract has said that they are entitled to a fee if the property does not sell at all. A more usual problem is the agent is granted sole selling rights then another agent is instructed. This can lead to the hapless seller being liable to pay two estate agents.

I certainly agree with you that this clause is unfair and would probably not be enforced by the court. The advice you have received is correct. You should write to the company asking them to withdraw the fee, and report the matter to Trading Standards. If they persist in their demand then, if the agent is a member of the Property Ombudsman Scheme, you can ultimately take your complaint to that body.

The alternative is simply to do nothing. I think it extremely unlikely that the agent will go to the bother of trying to sue you for £350 plus VAT.

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Look into an EA office window, desks nobody sitting at, no customers, maybe one member of staff, even the travel agents have got more customers.......phone shops looking very quiet also.😐

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1 hour ago, FabulousSophie said:

I must say I have never come across a case where an estate agent’s contract has said that they are entitled to a fee if the property does not sell at all.

How do the like of purple bricks, emoov and the other internet "fee up front" agents work...

Quote

https://www.purplebricks.co.uk/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8KKinZDn2wIVBPhRCh0QDA2bEAAYASADEgLN6PD_BwE

Five star service for a fair fixed fee of £849.

We provide a full estate agency service at a low cost because we've removed the expensive offices and fleets of cars that you see with traditional agents. Our fee is payable when you instruct but you can defer it for up to 10 months when you use our conveyancing service. We think it's a more modern, simple and fairer way to sell. We can take care of viewings for you for just £300 but many of our customers prefer to do it themselves, we’d rather give you the choice.

 

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1 hour ago, FabulousSophie said:

The alternative is simply to do nothing. I think it extremely unlikely that the agent will go to the bother of trying to sue you for £350 plus VAT.

No but they could put a bad debt against your name.

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20 minutes ago, crazypabs said:

How do the like of purple bricks, emoov and the other internet "fee up front" agents work...

 

The online ones charge fees upfront i.e. no money, no listing.

This case is weird. Id expect to be invoiced for any fee.

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1 minute ago, spyguy said:

Signs of a desperate sector/business about to die - suing your customers.

 

I wonder what will become of all the empty estate agents' offices.

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6 minutes ago, Horseradish said:

I wonder what will become of all the empty estate agents' offices.

To be honest, the ones I walk by are empty now.

They are just paying rates on grossly misused capital/operation.

 

 

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1 hour ago, spyguy said:

To be honest, the ones I walk by are empty now.

They are just paying rates on grossly misused capital/operation.

I saw in the windows of a local one "NEW PRICE" on 90% of their stuff. All still far too high, though 😆

 

 

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Dear JF,

have you considered just banging the price up? Some buyers get 'spooked' if the price is too low, they automatically assume something must be wrong with your house.

Regards,

an EA

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  • 301 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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      • down 5% +
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