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A Disillusioned Ex-estate Agent Admits Their Dirty Tactics

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Pav Sheen: 'I arranged viewings to coincide, and when one buyer left, I'd pretend they put in an offer'

http://money.independent.co.uk/property/ho...icle2996808.ece

Sheen freely admits to being part of the game. "We played on people's ignorance, and nudged them into making decisions, so that we could close a deal as quickly as possible," he recalls. A favourite trick would be to arrange two viewings to coincide, and when one lot had left, get someone from the office to ring, and pretend that it was them putting in an offer.

Sheen's first job was with a big estate agent chain in Harlow, Essex. " We did have a few training seminars, at which we learnt about property misdescription and so on," he says, "but most of what we learnt, the real stuff, came from the backroom."

He says the culture was such that you'd do almost anything not to lose a sale.

Pav's 10 top tips!

  1. 1. When you are viewing the property, ask questions and insist on getting answers. For instance, "Why so many cracks in the wall? Is this subsidence?". Your questioning will both elicit information and put the agent off-balance.

    2. Avoid displays of positive emotion when viewing. Be quiet, calm and sceptical, even dour. It will disconcert the agent, who will be unsure what line to take with you. When he asks questions, let your answers be short, to the point, and delivered with a poker face.

    3. Always remind the agent of how experienced a buyer you are. The awareness of a solid buyer can play a key role in negotiating the price. From the owner's point of view, better a solid buyer and a lower price than a risky buyer offering the full price.

    4. To avoid gazumping, get a friend to call up the estate agent about the property you have agreed to purchase to see if they are still marketing that property. If the agent is still accepting viewings, then it is possible you'll be gazumped. Confront them with their duplicity, and look for other properties.

    5. By law, all offers must be communicated to the vendor. If you mistrust your agent, try to exchange telephone numbers with the owner, once you have agreed a deal. Use an excuse, such as wanting to discuss the sale of furniture. This will ensure communication between yourself and the vendor. Failing this, try to drop a note through the vendor's letterbox with your name and telephone number.

    6. When calling to book a valuation, always tell the agent that you are looking to put your property on the market. This will always guarantee a free valuation. If you tell the agent that you need a valuation for a re-mortgage, or a divorce valuation, they will always try to charge you for it.

    7. A common tactic used by agents before signing is to state that they have a minimum contract term. In reality, this is not the case. It is merely another sales tactic, first to give the agent maximum exclusivity for selling time, and, second, to freeze out the competition. In fact, the contract can be amended, so do not be misled.

    8. Throw the agent off-guard by invoking "parallel reduction". If you have to reduce the price on your property, then the agent should be willing to reduce his commission. If you have to take a hit, why shouldn't he?

    9. A good tactic a vendor can use to get a lower fee is the play-off close, when the vendor plays one agent against another. For example: "We've seen a few agents and we've narrowed our choice down to you and one other agent. We would prefer to go to market with you, but the other agent has offered a lower commission. If you can match that, we'll come on the market with you." While doing this, smile.

    10. Beware tea and coffee. Agents will always try to increase the amount of time spent with a potentially strong buyer. Although agents often work against each other in the office, they sometimes join forces in what is called "office assistance". Another agent offers the buyer a beverage, a display of manners with an ulterior motive. The more time an agent has with you, the more time they have to make you comfortable and sell you other products.

Who enforces the rules and regulations then? obviously nobody as those unregulated & dishonest cowboys have made a killing & got away with it thanks to Brown's corrupted miracle economy.

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Why am I not suprised!

I hope there is no one out there who does actually like estate agents? and believe what they say??

Last EA I spoke to was still confident about the market and talking about Ireland :lol: saying how property was still going up etc etc...

I told him that the market looks to come to a stop with a possible fall in the next 6-12 months, he laughed.

A week later the NR crisis kicked in..

:rolleyes:

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Why am I not suprised!

I hope there is no one out there who does actually like estate agents? and believe what they say??

Last EA I spoke to was still confident about the market and talking about Ireland :lol: saying how property was still going up etc etc...

I told him that the market looks to come to a stop with a possible fall in the next 6-12 months, he laughed.

A week later the NR crisis kicked in..

:rolleyes:

There's good and bad EAs out there same as there are for all occupations. My general experience has been that the small independent ones outside of London are usually the best - as in most competent, least dishonest and least oleaginous. I've also noted that the good ones have made it through past housing downturns whereas the shysters were generally the first to go to the wall. I even share a pint from time to time with a long-standing Cambridge agent who's far more honest than most of clients seem to be.

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My experience of estate agents has been mixed. The crowd who are selling for me at the mo (due to complete within 2 weeks) have been perfectly adequate. I used one 4 years ago and the guy I used was first rate - an honest guy who had been in the game 20years and had a good reputation as an individual.

However, in between, a practice based in Chester tried to screw me and my ex by trying to sell our property to an aquantance of the senior partner. Various tactics were used but the 2 most serious were not passing on an asking price offer and blatant discrimination against the other potential purchaser to the extent that they lied about his financial status. In the end we told the agent where to go and dealt directly with the guy who they were discriminating against. Unfortunately they took us to small claims court to get their fee and won - as they had oriniginally introduced the eventual buyer - the law takes no account for their underhand behaviour.

Without going into details the judge told us on numerous occasions in the court room (in front of the parasites/estate agents) that he would never sign a sole agency agreement as they offer no protection whatsoever to the vendor from malpractice. We had to pay the fee and a small amount of interest but still ended up £5k up on the deal as we recieved asking price for the property (£400k). However, others may not be so lucky and I have sinced learned that this is not the first time this particular agent have been found to be operating in a way that is, in my opinion, fraudulent.

As far as I am concerned the sooner this particular set of scumbags get their wings clipped the better - they are a disgusting example of the dregs of the human race and complete oxygen thieves. Rant over...!

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I've always had more problems with solicitors when it comes to buying property. They are the biggest tossers involved - every possible tactic to delay things, loose things, write letters at massive expense.

Classics include demanding a council tax bill to show the property banding, when the idiots could look it up online within seconds. Another solicitor caused a major delay by insisting on a convertion to flats planning decision, which again was available online, or from the council offices 50 yards from his door. Oh no, that was too easy - why not delay things by three weeks by sending letters to the wrong solicitor's address demanding we got a copy for them.

Just about everyone I have spoken too has problems with solicitors. One friend even marched into one solicitors office with both buyer and vendor and demanded that they sort things out on the spot.

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I've always had more problems with solicitors when it comes to buying property. They are the biggest tossers involved - every possible tactic to delay things, loose things, write letters at massive expense.

Classics include demanding a council tax bill to show the property banding, when the idiots could look it up online within seconds. Another solicitor caused a major delay by insisting on a convertion to flats planning decision, which again was available online, or from the council offices 50 yards from his door. Oh no, that was too easy - why not delay things by three weeks by sending letters to the wrong solicitor's address demanding we got a copy for them.

Just about everyone I have spoken too has problems with solicitors. One friend even marched into one solicitors office with both buyer and vendor and demanded that they sort things out on the spot.

I recall having to explain to my numptie solicitor the legal position in regard to maintenance of a shared private sewer serving a property which I was planning to buy. Had I not the idiot would of held the purchase up forever. When she finally got it - I said that will be £120 plus VAT. She looked blank - to which I retorted - 'well thats what you charge me for advice'!

t****rs

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Another practice I see far too often are developers advertising the “last” remaining lot. Too many times I drive past a new development with advertising boards that are blatant lies like 1 remaing etc. Three months ago I drove to my sisters and spied a brand new development with no windows or roof and a huge sign saying that there was also only one lot remaining. This weekend I drove back past the development and it looks very close to completion with the same billboard:

last.jpg

>>Edit<<

I just called the number and it switches to a Vodafone mobile voice mail...

Edited by Redback911

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Like it - do you think these developers are telling the truth? Or maybe lying? Even just a little bit?

Not to worry, everything is fine in the market. Cos I read it in the paper. In fact I saw one double page spread in the 'Metro' in London for a development on the Thames that is advising people to 'get there early' this coming weekend for the launch; they reckon folk will be queueing. I for one will be pitching my tent tomorrow evening, want to be first in the queue to be relieved of 300 of my hard earned G's to jump on the upwardly mobile ladder and grab one of their studio apartments. Can't wait to sample that city lifestyle either, its gonna be fab!

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Another practice I see far too often are developers advertising the “last” remaining lot. Too many times I drive past a new development with advertising boards that are blatant lies like 1 remaing etc. Three months ago I drove to my sisters and spied a brand new development with no windows or roof and a huge sign saying that there was also only one lot remaining. This weekend I drove back past the development and it looks very close to completion with the same billboard:

last.jpg

>>Edit<<

I just called the number and it switches to a Vodafone mobile voice mail...

That is an awfully large sign to advertise "just one remaining?" Suspect its some sort of campaign to try to stimuylate the market late in the cycle. The "Just One Remaining" campaign. Nothing to do with reality and the Advertising Standards Authority, like Gordon's FSA will be told to back off anything HPI-related. Its a full on propaganda war now.

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I've always had more problems with solicitors when it comes to buying property. They are the biggest tossers involved - every possible tactic to delay things, loose things, write letters at massive expense.

Classics include demanding a council tax bill to show the property banding, when the idiots could look it up online within seconds. Another solicitor caused a major delay by insisting on a convertion to flats planning decision, which again was available online, or from the council offices 50 yards from his door. Oh no, that was too easy - why not delay things by three weeks by sending letters to the wrong solicitor's address demanding we got a copy for them.

Just about everyone I have spoken too has problems with solicitors. One friend even marched into one solicitors office with both buyer and vendor and demanded that they sort things out on the spot.

Its called defensive legal pratice. Too many lawsuits have forced solicitors to ultra cautious. If they look up the band and get it wrong they pay. If the client is responsible too bad. Same with anything relating to planning--fail to discover a small defect and the solicitor's insurers pay and the premium rises.

The other problem is that it is not really profitable for solicitors to do one-off conveyancing jobs. Too much competition from specialist companies who probably ought take on the work as they do in the US throw "Escrow" companies. Conveyer belt stuff and you pay a fat premium for title insurance to cover anyone's mistakes.

Edited by Realistbear

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Another practice I see far too often are developers advertising the “last” remaining lot. Too many times I drive past a new development with advertising boards that are blatant lies like 1 remaing etc. Three months ago I drove to my sisters and spied a brand new development with no windows or roof and a huge sign saying that there was also only one lot remaining. This weekend I drove back past the development and it looks very close to completion with the same billboard:

That's pretty funny.

I thought the developers near me being blatant with their '75% already sold' lies.

Is anyone actually dumb enough to fall for this, yes probably.

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wouldnt negotiating a lower commission for yourself de-insentivise the EA to sell the place? He'll know that every other house on his books could potentially make more money, and in direct competition, he will sway the buyer onto a competing house. I wonder if having your house sitting unsold is worth the extra £s saved...?! All depends on ya luck I guess...

edit: my solicitor was fine, they were chasing me much of the time lol! That and the EA who wanted his commission! Maybe it helped that we went for a fixed price conveyency. They waste time? Its at their cost... maybe worth a look for ya next time.

Edited by Orbital

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