Selling your house and moving on is a big step. An exciting one, but big all the same. So the last thing you need is a dodgy estate agent throwing a spanner in the works.
Not only could you lose money if the buyer pulls out of a sale because of your rogue agent, but the extra time added to the sale, if you have to start all over again, could put you at risk of losing any property you’ve put in an offer for too. So to help you avoid this, here are three tips for spotting a dodgy agent!
1. Overvaluing your property
This is a common trick to get you locked into a contract, then once you’re in it, the agent will simply reduce the value, giving some reason or other. They may also lie about the value of other properties they’ve sold in the area, to persuade you to go with them. If they make any claims, you’re within your rights to ask to see proof. After all, if the sale goes through, the agent will be making a pretty penny out of it in comission. And, if they’re telling the truth, they should have no reason refuse you the proof you’re asking for. To avoid this, make sure you ask several agents to value your home and then it’d probably be best to choose the one in the middle, as long as they stack up in other areas. You can also find out what other properties in your locality cost by looking on wesbites, such as the Land Registry database, which will show you details about any UK property. You will have to pay, but it’s only £3 and will be well worth it if it stops you from duped by an agent.
2. Pretending to be part of a professional body
This is just as important for sellers as it is for buyers. So when you’re choosing your estate agent, make sure they are current members of an estate agents trade body, such as National Association of Estate Agents, or National Federation of Property Professionals. You can easily check an agent's membership status on the association website. Remember, being a member of a professional association means the agent is prepared to adhere to a code of conduct, and that they are willing to be investigated by them, should a seller complain about the service they’ve received.
3. Inserting unfair or illegal clauses
Before you sign anything, make sure you’ve read through the contract really well. Watch out for clauses that agree for the agent to be paid, often thousands, even if they don’t actually sell your house, or make any marketing efforts to do so. This could be considered as money for nothing. There have also been cases of agents writing clauses into the sellers contract that stipulates that any buyer must go through the agents in-house mortgage advisor, which is illegal.
DIY house selling
If you’re wanting to save a bit of cash and you’re up for spending the time it’ll need to be successful, why not have a go at selling your house using one of the DIY websites, like property expert Sarah Beeny’s site tepilo, or housenetwork, that have sprung up on the web?
We don’t want these stories put you off. Most estate agents are fair, honest and only want the best for both seller and buyer, so chances are you’ll end up with one of those anyway.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.