Not content with shoving endless leaflets through my door, estate agents have started to list properties on google maps.
By far the worst offender of this was Alexander Gibson Estate Agents. There where a few others with the odd for sale property, and non of the big estate agents had any listings on Google, that I could find.
There certainly are some dodgy practices employed by some estate agents, these are some of the more common;
1 – Putting boards up on properties they haven’t been asked to sell or let, or leaving boards up longer than needed;
2 – Advising clients on offers from fictional buyers (yes they always fall through);
3 – Not revealing to a seller that a deal has fallen through, while they scramble to find another buyer before they lose the instruction;
4 – Dreaming up fictional offers from non-existent viewings to push buyers into raising their offer;
5 – Refusing to hand over the keys to rival firms when a property is being marketed by more than one agent;
6 – Refusing to pass on an acceptable offer to the vendor knowing the buyer will go higher and boost their commission;
7 – Deleting applicants and their offers from the firm’s database so buyers registered with colleagues are out of the running;
8 – Gazumping their own buyers with a better offer from another customer;
9 – Under-valuing a property in order to sell or let it to a developer or friend;
10 – Recommending offers from buyers just because they are signed up to their solicitors and brokers.
I’m rather hoping estate agents have cleaned up their act since I last had dealings with them, but it’s always a good idea to list a property with multiple agencies, and remember, the only thing they want is their commission on a sale. And there’s little they wouldn’t do to achieve it.
Here’s a quick list of things to look for;
1) Only deal with agents supervised by the property ombudsman. These agents must follow the ombudsman’s code of practice and you can get up to £25,000 compensation if they break the code. Find participating agents from The Property Ombudsman.
2) Get recommendations from friends who have both bought and sold in the area. If you are selling up you will want to know the agent is polite to would-be buyers and turns up on time for appointments, as he or she will be representing you.
3) Value the property yourself. You can do this online for free at Zoopla.co.ukor pay Hometrack.co.uk £19.95 for a detailed property valuation report based on the same database used by mortgage lenders.
4) Deal directly with sellers and buyers using Tepilo. The property search engine, set up by Channel 4 TV presenter Sarah Beeny, allows homeowners to advertise directly to sellers, avoiding the need for estate agents completely. The site is free with no commission fees to pay. Alternatively, try fee-charging sites like emoov.co.uk or House Simple.
5) Contact potential sellers in person. Visit your chosen area and contact the sellers of properties you like directly, perhaps by popping a card through the door. Tell them you are interested in buying their home and give your contact number. They may be considering selling up and be glad to bypass agency fees.
6) Look at how the agent markets other properties. If the descriptions on its website tend towards the jocular, and you seek seriousness, or the pictures look like they were taken through a dirty window, you might want to steer clear – even if the agent is charging the lowest commission.
7) Check any agent you hire is a member of the National Association of Estate Agents. They must undergo professional development training each year and follow a voluntary code of conduct. There is a disciplinary process which includes penalties up to £5,000 for each rule broken. Search the directory of members at NAEA.co.uk.