Underhand Estate Agent Tactics Are Back
How dirty is your estate agent – seriously?
I ask as there is a rising tension between estate agents and if one isn’t careful, you may find yourself caught in the middle. The way some estate agents are conducting themselves currently is highly questionable and one has to query whose interests they are acting in. These turf wars have gone way beyond the usual competitive rivalry and extra marital affairs with work colleagues. Underhand estate agent tactics and overstepping the mark is becoming more commonplace as the market tightens.
Let me give you some insight into 4 of the most common types of misdemeanors taking place.
1. Ghost viewings
Ghost viewings are where an estate agent arranges with the vendor to show an interested party around. However this person doesn’t necessarily exist and is arranged to curry favour with the vendor, that the appointed estate agent is getting interest. However in one recent example, the vendor didn’t believe what their agent was saying about the nature of a proposed viewing. After opening the front door for the agent, the vendor left and went around the corner to climb a tree with a pair of binoculars. Sure enough the proposed viewing was nothing more than the agent’s work colleague. After the viewing, the vendor rang the agent to see how it went. The agent then went into sales mode to express that it was a strong contender and they would work on them. Caught in the act more like!
Proactive touting of other estate agents’ properties has always been standard fair, however these are often filled with false promises of several buyers waiting in the wings, but the estate agent has little intention of selling your home. Instead they want to use you as marketing collateral for their own gain as your home will look great on the estate agent’s social media channels and websites. This is used to increase the agent’s followers, rather than helping you the vendor. The issue becomes more real when this agent doesn’t sell and leaves the homeowner with a vast digital footprint, which is then detrimental to the sale going forward and could put some buyers off as they may not want their new home plastered all over the internet.
A recent client had one of these estate agents try and do this. However in order to try and secure their business from another agent, they went one step further by continually ringing the house intercom on different days to speak with the vendor. The estate agent even waited outside their home for when they potentially left to speak with them. Borderline harassment in my opinion, but thankfully the client saw through them.
3. Inflated Guide Prices
Some agents also promise highly inflated guide prices to secure business, tie the vendor into a contract and then go to work on them by chipping the price down. The worst I have seen recently is a price quoted £1,000,000 above where it should be.
4. The Worst Kept Open Secret
Of greater concern is a ‘worst kept open secret’ in the property sector, where other professionals in the industry are questioning why HMRC and the police haven’t turned up to this agent yet. They build up significant debts running into several hundred thousand pounds. When it gets too much, the agent simply folds the Limited company and reopens the next day under another banner, which they have done with great success several times. Despite this, journalists and clients continue to throw themselves at the agent, but have done no research on Companies House. As a client, what happens if you get taken down in the process or are part of the agent’s ill-conceived lifestyle? After all the debt they create has to be paid somehow – by us the taxpayer.
Do Your Checks
As you can see agent rivalry and competition has turned for the worse, yet it is always the vendor who loses out. Now knowing about these underhand estate agent tactics, be sure to carry out some extra checks as it will solve a lot of issues and help you avoid being hoodwinked by these rogues in the first instance. Now if only there was someone out there you could trust…
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