Estate Agents tricks of the trade

Like most professionals, Estate Agents have various tricks of the trade up their sleeve. Some are in the moral grey area. Others would actually be criminal.

Here's a list some of the more serious Estate Agents Trade Tricks and what you can do to prevent them.

The Scam: Deliberate Undervaluing:

The Estate Agent comes to view a house or flat and deliberately undervalues it. In other words they tell the seller that it is worth say £100,000 when they know full well it could sell for £120,000.

They achieve a quick sale. But surely they wouldn't do this? What about their lost commission?

Well at 3% commission on the £100,000 sale they have made £3000 - as opposed to making a much more difficult extra £600 by selling the house at its true value of £120,000

The Scam: Deliberate Undervaluing / False Purchasing:

This is even worse. As above, the Estate Agent deliberately undervalues the property.

The seller accepts their solemn assurances that this is the best they'll get. Then the agent quickly arranges for a friend to buy the property. He then sells it on for its real value and makes a significant profit.

To avoid this: Get several agents to value your property. They will do this for free.

The Scam: Not passing on all offers:

A buyer gives the seller's agent a bribe in order to put other buyers off. The agent doesn't tell their client about any other offers or interest.

To avoid this: If you are the seller, simply get a friend to put in an offer and see if the agent passes this on.

If you're the buyer approach the seller directly. You could put a note through their letterbox "I was just passing by. I really do love your place and hope you're interested in our offer. Include your phone number.


The Scam: Lying about the property:

The sellers' agent will assure the buyer that, for example, planning permission for a promised new feature depicted in the brochure has been obtained. If the buyer is fortunate they will have a good solicitor who will spot this.

To avoid this: Don't take anyone's word for it.

Ask to see written proof. If they provide this look out for caveats such as "to the best of my knowledge" etc.

Also make sure you have a good solicitor. Write down the crucial points and double check that they have all been covered before exchanging contracts.


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