The most common “dodgy practices” undertaken by estate agents within the sales market have been revealed in a bid to usher in greater regulation of the sector.
Lee Pendleton (pictured, below), who runs ten-branch estate agent James Pendleton, also believes that not enough is being done to raise standards within the industry.
He says putting for sale boards up outside properties is the most common dodgy practice followed by passing on offers from fictional clients, not telling clients when real offers do fall through – to give themselves time to find a fresh offer – and gazumping their own clients when a late offer comes in.
“This is the truth about the underbelly of this industry. It is unregulated and, as a result, attracts some pretty unscrupulous characters,” he says.
“You’ve got to remember that someone a day out of prison with no qualifications or ethical compass can set up an estate agency and sell your home.
“All estate agents have to be a member of an ombudsman scheme and, like regulation, there is a cost attached. There’s scant evidence in my view that enough is being done to raise standards sufficiently where it’s most needed.”
Other practices Lee highlights include:
- Under-valuing a property so that they can sell it to a developer or a mate
- Making up fake offers so that a buyer then raises their own offer
- Refusing to hand over keys to rival agents when the property is listed with multiple agents; Not passing on ‘reasonable’ offers in the hope that they later go higher and boost the agent’s commission
- Recommending offers from buyers just because they’re signed up to use the agency’s solicitor or mortgage broker
- Deleting applicants and their offers from the firm’s database to remove bidders introduced by competing colleagues.
“It’s vital consumers realise this and shop around. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming all estate agencies are born equal, far from it,” says Lee.
“Regulation may be the only way to stamp out the poor practices that undermine the hard work of the vast majority of agents.”