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How to deal with Estate Agents - A guide

What are the homebuyers' rights when they deal with Estate Agents in England , Wales and Northern Ireland.

Q- I would like to put in an offer on a flat- Is the Estate Agent obliged to pass it on to the seller?
A-Yes.The Estate Agent must pass all offers onto the seller promptly unless the seller has asked for offers below a certain price not to be passed on.
The Estate Agent is not obliged to give you details of other offers received.

Q-The Estate Agent has informed me that a higher offer has been received on a property I am interested in. Should I believe this?
A-The Office of Fair Trading state that agents cannot claim to have higher offers unless it is true.

Neither should they invent first time buyers or cash buyers. If you have doubts about what the agent has told you the OFT suggests that you ask for evidence although this could be embarrassing and difficult. A complaint could be made to The Ombudsman for Estate Agents:-01722 333306. It is very upsetting for a buyer to make and offer and then to be told that a higher offer has been made but if you were the seller you would want to accept the highest offer. If a higher offer has not really been made the agent will probably come back to you.

Q- When my offer has been accepted on a property can I then force the agent to stop advertising and take the property off the market.?
A-No. The agent is working for the seller who will make the final decision about the property.
The seller may consider you to be a good buyer if you have a good deposit or are not in a chain.
If he did accept another offer after accepting yours you will have been ‘gazumped.’

Q- Can thee Estate Agent demand a deposit?
A-Yes. But only if they are covered by insurance. A receipt should be issued. This is set out in the Estate Agents Regulations

Q- Is it legal for Estate Agents to describe a property in glowing terms when in fact this is false.
A-No. This is an offence. A certain amount of artistic licence is expected but it must not be misleading or false.

Q- What should I do if the agent made charges that I did not expect.?
A-The Estate Agent should state exactly how much you will be charged or give an estimate explaining how the costs are calculated.
If you find a buyer yourself you will still have to pay the Estate Agent.
If you opt for a ‘ready, willing and able purchaser ‘contract you will still have to pay even if a buyer is found after you decide to withdraw the property.

Q- Will I be discriminated against if I refuse the Estate Agents financial advice services such as insurance or a mortgage?
A-No. The Estates Agents Act 1979 states that all buyers must be treated fairly by the agent. Do not feel under any pressure.

Q- If anything goes wrong who do I complain to?
A-Any complaints can be made to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors or the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA):- 01926 496800 .

Also The Ombudsman for Estate Agents Scheme :- 01722 333306 and your Local Trading Standard Department may be able to offer advice.

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Value of Property  
£
(eg 135000) 
Value of Mortgage
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(eg 85000) 
Type of Mortgage