Estate Agent Ethics 48


I am having a fraught time with my attempted house move. It is so strange that I thought I would blog about it. The strangeness may be only a product of the years since I last bought a house.

I saw a lovely old home – a Grade 2 listed building, very dilapidated – earlier this week. It was advertised at 289,995, and I put in a bid of 275,000. The agent told me that a cash offer of 250,000 was already in, and that the seller was inclined to accept it for a quick sale. The house ad, he said, been repossessed. In these cases, the rule was that no offer was accepted until contracts were completed.

That sounded very unpleasant and I wished I was in Scotland where the law enforces some honour. But even more strangely, the estate agent said he had no idea if it was a listed building, and went on to deny my suggestion it had at some stage been converted to flats, despite the fact that it has three floors, each with its own recently but horribly installed kitchen and bathroom.

A phone call to the council confirmed it is indeed a listed building and it appears there was no permission for those changes, though I have to visit the Council to make certain of that last. But my several contacts with the estate agent since then have left me with the strong impression that they have a real desire not to sell to me.

In short, what they have said to me is that the 250,000 cash offer is going through, and they will not inform the seller of my higher offer unless I can show the cash. I have said I will be able to show the cash within seven days. They have said that if I show the cash before the 250,000 transaction goes through, they will tell the seller about me. But otherwise not.

That seems to me crazy. I should have thought even a corporate seller would want to know somebody had offered 25,000 more, and be given the option of waiting a very few days to see if he could show the money. The house has only been on the market a fortnight.

This is my email exchange with the estate agent today:

Hello…

I presume my 275,000 remains the best offer?

I today paid over 125,000 in cheques into my current account for the

deposit. These will take a few days to clear.

I have a second meeting with my bank (Natwest) on Tuesday morning to

finalise the offer in principle. So the finance will be fully in place

before the end of next week.

I have instructed, and paid, Mr … to carry out a structural

survey.

Please inform me of any developments.

Craig Murray

Afternoon Craig,

Thanks for your email.

We cannot put your offer forward to our corporate client till we have seen the following documents

Agreement in principle from your bank

proof of deposit

Kind Regards

Incidentally, the house plainly has not been a happy family home for many years so I don’t have qualms about buying a repossession.

Am I being paranoid? I have half convinced myself the estate agent is trying to sell for 250,000 to a local developer they know, avoiding stamp duty, not advertising the listed building status and suppressing higher bids. Or is this all innocent and normal?


48 thoughts on “Estate Agent Ethics

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  • craig

    The bureaucracy of a listed building will be a pain, but I don’t forsee too many problems as restoring it towards the original is what I plan to do.

  • lwtc247

    “I don’t forsee too many problems as restoring it” Nobody ever does Craig.

    Don’t rush mate. Rushing is the receptacle of problems. Listen to the wise words of caution here Craig. We need you to have as much free time keeping up pressure on this administration to stop the horrors of the past. Don’t invite misery onto yourself.

    Whatever you decide, best wishes.

  • tony_opmoc

    Craig,

    You should have banned me months ago. Its extremely easy to do. If you don’t know how to do it, ask your service provider for a simple tool so you can do it yourself.

    Anyway, I have attempted to ban myself from your website.

    I’m not sure how well it will work, but I reckon, that after drinking 6 pints of Speckled Hen and in a state where I am likely to post loads of drivel, I will probably be unable to remember how to unban myself.

    Good luck with your new home if you get it. It does seem incredibly cheap unless you are moving to Oldham.

    In the meantime I will leave you with this. Don’t bother replying because I will be unable to read what you said.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF_WKwbueG8

    Bye,

    Tony

  • glenn

    Tony : Very sorry it’s come to this. If you really want to ban yourself, put this website’s address into your /etc/hosts file (in XP it would be c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\ ) as follows:

    127.0.0.1 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk

    Or better still, put in the address of something else that might distract you, such as :

    12.180.59.238 http://www.craigmurray.org.uk

    Good luck.

    – Glenn.

  • David Allen

    Craig,

    Read Freakonomics. An estate agent would much rather earn a definite x% of £250K, and move on quickly to the next house sale, than take the chance of earning x% of £275K, with a bid that might fall through.

    Find the actual vendor and give them your offer. Cut out the middleman!

  • wendy

    for a repossessed in general they take in offers and then they are obliged to advertise for 7 days the best offer they have and they invite further bids

    just get this confirmed and wait until they make that 7 day window to make your best and final offer .

  • wendy

    “In short, what they have said to me is that the 250,000 cash offer is going through, and they will not inform the seller of my higher offer unless I can show the cash. I have said I will be able to show the cash within seven days. They have said that if I show the cash before the 250,000 transaction goes through, they will tell the seller about me. But otherwise not.”

    this is pretty much normal in these situations, they need to know as fact that you have the funds, they probably have been instructed to get the best deal in the shortest of time.

  • Redders

    Craig,

    I’m just about to start an extension to a grade 2 listed cottage. To be honest I didn’t have too much trouble getting planning permission for it but then again, I live in Dartford and the conservation officer was very pragmatic. If your proposed building is anywhere within a London Borough I suspect you will have a lot more problems. We bought our house 20 years ago and although we have been more cramped than we probably should have been and I don’t have access to a garage (you don’t know how painful that has been for me) I really wouldn’t change it for anything. It’s more than just finance and investments etc. if its a home you want then buy it because that’s more important than an investment.

    As for the estate agents, he’s probably been instructed by the vendor not to present any offers without evidence of funds. I wouldn’t trust any of them with my dog far less my daughter or my money, the comments made above about the stamp duty limit rings very true but provide them with the evidence of your cash and if things don’t move quickly after that then do the Land Registry search (well, do it beforehand anyway, you might turn up something interesting).

    Oh! and for God’s sake don’t make an offer of £25K more, keep your powder dry and tell them you can only offer evidence of £260K for the moment but you want a decision within 5 days.

  • estate agents

    The actual value of a property is what it’s worth to you. A mosque is slowly being constructed behind my back garden. That’s not everyone’s cup of tea.Estate agent fraud is highly developed and totally routine.

  • Clark

    Redders,

    Tony_opmoc makes some good posts. His rambling monologues are from when he’s been drinking, by his own admission. I hope he gets it sorted and posts sensibly again.

  • wendy

    “A mosque is slowly being constructed behind my back garden. That’s not everyone’s cup of tea.”

    but you just wait and watch your property values go up .. a mosque built in my neighbourhood gave a premium of 20k to 30K over the odds.

  • Stephen Jones

    The poor exploited illegal got GBP85,000 for telling her story to the Mail on Sunday. Somehow, I find it hard to raise any sympathy for her.

  • Ed

    Can they do this?

    My Grand Daughter & boyfriend are trying to rent a flat in Milton Keynes.

    2 days ago they found one through an estate agent.

    Yesterday they were told that they would have to have a credit check done (on her boyfriend).

    Today they went back to hear the result of the credit check, only to be informed that they needed to hand over a non-refundable £200 administration fee before the agents would tell them the result.

    This seems to smack of sharp practise to me.

    If the boyfriend failed the credit check, then the £200 would be wasted- money that they can hardly afford to throw away.

    Can the agents do this, as, when asked for a written copy, the girl in the office replied, ‘well, if you are not going to pay, we had better bin your application, hadn’t we’?

    What a strange way to do business.

    Ed

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