HomeOwners Alliance logo

Become a member today to access our home helpline, discounted conveyancing, expert advice & legal service

iStock_000004715674Small

Estate Agents’ Tricks

On the whole, Estate Agents do a good job at helping you buy and sell houses. But they are also geniuses at squeezing every possible penny from you or making you settle for the sale that's best for them - keep your cards close to your chest and learn to spot their tricks before they pull them.

Whipping you into a frenzy

It’s the estate agents’ job to create a buzz around a property. They might try to panic you by arranging appointments when other buyers are also viewing the property. Rather than working through offers one at a time, they might try to introduce  “sealed bids”, which pits you against other buyers without you knowing how much they are willing to offer.

Stay head-strong and don’t fall for it. All of this is aimed to push you into driving your price up much further than you can afford. So keep in mind what you can pay and stick to this – there’s no point in getting your dream home if you are then impoverished for the rest of your life. Find out the best questions to ask an estate agent.

Talking you out of the best deal

Never let them know your bottom line (if you’re selling) or your maximum price (if you’re buying). Otherwise the chances are you’ll end up having to settle for it.

Avoid letting an agents’ agenda eclipse your own by shopping around to find the right agent for you and getting your property valued by at least three different people if you’re selling.

Inventing phantom offers to drive up your price 

Your below-asking-price offer has been accepted, the property you are buying is off the market, and it’s all steam ahead towards completion. Then the next week, the Estate Agent calls to say that someone who viewed the property previously has put in an offer a few thousand pounds above yours. You smell a rat. If you suspect this is a false bid, challenge the Estate Agent and ask to see proof in writing that this third party exists and they are willing to make a higher offer. Read what one of our members did in this situation.

Whether real or hoax, being gazumped is depressing and can cost you money. There are a few options for reducing the chance of being gazumped but they cost.  Some estate agents have introduced a “Good Will Charter”. Both parties pay a deposit which they will lose if they don’t go through with the sale. It’s not fail safe but it might help you weed out people who aren’t serious about the deal.

Another option is a lock-out agreement whereby the seller has to take the property off the market for a limited amount of time while the deal is being completed. You will have to move quickly to get everything done before the time period is up. Discuss the pros and cons with your solicitor.

Misleading you over Help to Buy 

Help to Buy phase 1 allows some people to get a government loan of 20% of the price of their house. This is a loan so it will have to be repaid, but some lenders advertise the property at 80% of the price, deliberately misleading Help to Buyers into thinking they are getting a cheaper deal.

Pressuring you to use their mortgage brokers 

Some estate agents have been reported putting pressure on people to use their mortgage service, saying they will get preferential treatment or, worse, claiming they are unwilling to work with them unless they do. Putting undue pressure on you in this way is illegal. By all means, if you have the time, get a quote from the Estate Agent’s mortgage adviser before shopping around, but bear in mind that:

  • they may have a far narrower selection of mortgages than if you look further afield
  • there may be an upfront charge for their advice whereas some mortgage brokers and banks can give you mortgage advice for free

Also be aware there have been accusations of mortgage brokers and estate agents working closely together, openly discussing potential buyers’ budgets in order to get as much money out of the buyer as possible. So again, find out what deal they can offer while remembering that you are under no obligation to accept their mortgage offers.

Selling you extra advertising

If your house isn’t selling maybe you need to think about changing your tactics. Your estate agent might tell you they can do more to advertise your property if you pay them more.

Think hard about this: why haven’t they done everything they can to market your property already? And is the extra money refundable if you still don’t get an offer?


Leave a comment




Captcha *

19 Comments

  1. Dear Christine,

    Thank you for your query. This would appear to be a breach of The Property Ombudsman Code of Practice for residential estate agents (a copy of which I have attached for your further reading by email), as such you may wish to raise a direct complaint. Do also have a look at the following reading from our website which you may find useful:
    Estate Agents’ Tricks
    How to complain about your estate agent: A guide for sellers

    I do hope this is helpful and I wish you the very best in taking this forward.

    Kind regards,

    Sophie
    HomeOwners Alliance Team

    Comment by Sophie Khan — October 13, 2016 @ 1:55 pm

  2. My daughter and partner wanted to book a viewing on a house for sale. The estate agents have told them that they will have to have a appointment with their mortgage advisor cost £500 my daughter already has a mortgage in place and a certificate to prove it !! They only want to view the property there’s no saying they will like it this doesn’t sound right to me and the agent got a bit rude and said it’s what the vendor wants is this right ??

    Comment by Christine Connolly — October 11, 2016 @ 2:28 pm

  3. Unfortunately there are some unscrupulous agents out there,
    However please do not tar us all with the same brush.
    We work extremely hard in a very competitive market and on a lot of of occasions people do genuinely get out bid.
    Make sure you speak to your agent and don’t contact dozens of them, just choose a couple of agents you get on with and who seem helpful then let them know what you need.
    If I don’t have what a client requires I will get off my backside and go and try to find it for them.
    Most of all stay focussed and make sure you are prompt for viewings then the agent will try their best for you.

    Greg

    Comment by Greg Antioch — April 26, 2016 @ 4:37 pm

  4. We made an offer on a place we liked, at asking price (we didn’t want to mess around with haggling and it was cheaper than others we’d seen). We were told we were in top position as not many offer asking price… Next day the estate agent called to say they’d had lots of offers and what was the best we could do? Could we go a little higher? We withdrew our offer as we smelt a rat, we’d been unimpressed with this agency previously anyway. What do you know, 10 minutes later ‘oh the seller was disappointed, they wanted you to buy it’. Pfft

    Comment by Erin — April 16, 2016 @ 9:42 am

  5. I viewed a house and decided to put an offer in. The house needs work that I am happy to do, I actually offered more than the askink price. Next day, the agent calls to ask what is my top offer in case somebody makes an offer too. I mean what is that, are they not supposed to relay the offer to the seller, this is not an auction… So disappointed in some ppl and their approach

    Comment by Cristian P Frasina — March 28, 2016 @ 4:43 pm

  6. I’ve been told that my offer won’t be put to the vendor unless I see their broker to qualify that I have an agreement in place (which I do). The agent insists that I won’t be sold a mortgage but I have to bring id to show the broker. Is this right? It sounds ridiculous to me.

    Comment by Matt — February 29, 2016 @ 5:30 pm

  7. You are offering excellent advice and I am glad you make clear that not all estate agents get up to these tricks!

    My own estate agents are nothing like what you describe. Our first attempt to sell failed (not at all the agents’ fault – we all believed that the buyers were as keen as mustard and were good for it, but circumstances overtook them and they had to withdraw). As a result I lost my perfect flat.

    The agents have sold my house again just over two weeks after it went back onto the market and for the price I wanted.

    I am a complete novice at this, and they seem willing to be a resource for all sorts of advice about house buying and selling. At present I am not optimistic about being able to find the flat I want, but they are optimistic enough on my behalf for that not to matter.

    (And yes, now and again the cynic in me whispers that that’s because they want their money…..)

    Comment by Sue Vogel — February 24, 2016 @ 6:29 pm

  8. We agreed a sale and 3 days before completion the potential buyers pulled out citing tax problems and the severing of their relationship.We had in the meantime had a survey on a property we intended to buy and instructed a solicitor as well as having an asbestos survey on our own property done (at the request of the buyers who wanted a certificate indicating that no harmful asbestos was present .As you can imagine we were £1500 down at the end of th aborted sale .I feel we should have had some form of compensation ,th current system just doesn’t seem fair.

    Comment by JENNIFER SISWICK — January 27, 2016 @ 4:27 pm

  9. Trust in your own instincts when selling your property. Have three estate agents round to value your house before putting it on the market. Have a look on Zoopla, (achieved prices for houses in your postcode). Do a bit of homework, research your area and look for the benefits, for example, good schools, access to local shops, bus, trains and airports. This type of information can be invaluable when selling a property.

    Comment by ‘Glen at AP lawyers’. — January 12, 2016 @ 10:58 am

  10. I have been accepted an offer of 51k on a flat of offers over 50k. It was originally offers over 55k but it was reduced. It went up on right move as under offer. Now over Christmas it’s been put back on the market for offers over £55k again. Can this be done??

    I feel like I’m being really messed around!

    I

    Comment by Sarah — December 26, 2015 @ 11:24 pm

  11. I have just received a bill from a estate agents asking for £720.00 before I have signed a contract with them.
    They are coming to take phot’s on Monday,is this normal proctice.
    They say it is a marketing fee.

    Comment by Smjames — November 11, 2015 @ 2:12 pm

  12. Hi emi,

    You might find it useful to check out one of our expert’s answers to a member’s question similar to yours.

    “How do I know the third party offer is real and not the estate agent trying it on?”

    Good luck,

    Annie
    HomeOwners Alliance Team

    Comment by Annie — September 24, 2015 @ 9:40 am

  13. I am very interested in buying a property through an agent the asking price for the property was around 500K after I made my offer the agent came back to me to say they had an offer for £530,000 then I upped my offer by maximum of 540k and then now the agent has come back to say they have an offer for £580,000 is there any way for me to ask the agent for proof of other persons offer because I do not believe that the other person actually exists and perhaps maybe it’s a trick to get me to increase my offer. do I have a legal right to ask the agent for proof of other buyers offers

    Comment by emi — September 23, 2015 @ 11:04 pm

  14. We agreed terms with a landlord ‘in writing’ to take the lease of a commercial building and then the file was taken over by another estate agent, who then started to invite offers from other parties, knowing full well we’d agreed terms. We were then pitched into a competition with other people and lost the property as a result. Is this legal??

    Comment by steve — September 9, 2015 @ 7:08 pm

  15. read the small print in the contract with the estate agent since there can be many items which require further explanation and may involve more costs where these items are considered to be needed What you are not told is often as important to you as what you are told

    Comment by david davies — September 7, 2015 @ 10:29 am

  16. Buying a property right now and finding that we are being pressured to speak to the agents mortgage advisor all the time. We have a mortgage in principle from our building society. I have no reason to get another quote. I don’t trust that the in house mortgage advisor and the agent aren’t in cahoots and it’s just a ruse to get as much money out of us as they can.

    Comment by Steve — July 7, 2015 @ 4:25 pm

  17. my buyer turned out to be a phantom to boost the estate agents property sold image.

    Comment by steve munt — June 29, 2015 @ 8:45 am

  18. Agents are actually responsible on settling for a price that is best for the vendor as they are the people paying our commission.

    Our duty to any potential buyers is to be polite, honest and as helpful as we can. However it is often the buyers who present the myriad of problems surrounding house sales.

    Sorry but it’s the truth.

    Comment by Pat — April 10, 2015 @ 10:55 am

  19. A tremendously helpful website! thank you.

    Comment by Clare Menzies — August 3, 2014 @ 5:29 pm

Sign up to our FREE newsletter for latest advice, services and money saving offers

Sign up now
×

Don't Miss Out!


Sign up to our free newsletter for latest advice, services and money saving offers

Sign Up Image