In recent weeks, a number of independent mortgage brokers have alerted Newspage to underhand practices at certain corporate estate agencies.
The negotiators at these agencies are apparently intimating to prospective buyers that their offers to purchase a property will not be put forward for consideration to the seller unless they agree to additional in-house services offered, such as mortgage advice or legal services.
Basically, it seems some corporate estate agents are using people's desperation to buy and the sheer strength of demand in the market to sell in-house advice.
What most brokers are keen to stress is that the majority of estate agents, especially small, independent ones, do not use these ‘conditional selling’ tactics and offer a great service to seller and buyer alike.
In the words of broker Rhys Schofield of Peak Mortgages & Protection, who has a client prepared to go on the record about this practice and is building a case to present to the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries:
“I won't mince my words: many agents are repeatedly breaking the law and don't give a damn about it because clients are too scared to complain for fear of missing out on properties.”
Another broker, Rob Peters of Simple Fast Mortgage, goes so far as to call ‘conditional selling’ a cancer:
“There is a filthy cancer in the estate agency world, which needs to be addressed.”
A third, Lewis Shaw of Shaw Financial Services, says this:
I've had numerous cases of estate agents trying to push financial services onto my customers; in the last three instances, they've all been part of the Connells or Countrywide groups, specifically Bairstow Eves, Frank Innes and Burchell Edwards. They're pushing this idiotic line of 'we have to financially qualify them' even though all the customers in question had agreements in principle."