Buying a house Buying a house through estate agents

An estate agent

Maintain regular contact with estate agents if you want to be called about new properties

Although our research points to widespread consumer dissatisfaction with estate agents, it’s still likely you’ll have to deal with one when buying a house.

Find the right estate agents

Some estate agents specialise in particular types of properties, or price ranges, so look around for one that meets your needs.

Don’t restrict yourself to one agent. There’s no harm in registering with a wide selection.

All estate agents have to be members of an ombudsman scheme that handles complaints. There are two ombudsman schemes for estate agents:

Visit their websites to check whether an agent is a member.

Video: tips for buying a house through estate agents

Since you’re unlikely to be able to avoid using an estate agent, you need to take certain steps that will ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible. 

In this short video, first-time buyers Lydia and Amanda share their experiences of viewing flats, and explain the tactics some agents will use to pressure you into making an offer.

 

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Video transcript

We went to see a property, we went to second view of a property, and on the second viewing, it was quite different to the first. On the first view we went to see it at night, so it was quite dark. It was in the winter as well so it was really dark. Went into the garden, and there was like a puddle, and been told it was something about a dishwasher, and it will be fixed in a week.

When we went back the second time, we could see the extent of the damage in the light, and the previous, the first few who we'd known, so the stage was really trying to pressure me into putting an offer in.

Yeah, they generally say we've
already had a lot of interest, we've already had several people putting offers, and they put pressure on you.

So we felt, we like this place we don't want to miss out, so we've got to put in an offer, which we did, just to kind of secure it. We went back again and found all of this damage that had been going on for years, and would cost thousands of pounds to repair that they tried to brush over as just a broken washing machine.

It was clearly a lot worse than that. And that is something that you have to be careful of it. Don't be pressured into putting offers into something while making any movements onto something because of an estate agent, because they're trying to make their sale. It's your money at the end of the day.

Checklist: buying a house through estate agents

Our printable checklist will help you get estate agents on your side as a buyer and ask all the right questions about any properties you are interested in viewing or making an offer on so you can make an informed decision. You can also read on for our top tips. 

Resources

 

Make regular contact

The more contact you have with your estate agent, the more likely it is that they’ll think of you when something suitable comes on the market.

Keep records

Record details of any phone conversations, including who you spoke to on what date and what was said. This will help to avoid any disputes further down the line if something you’d thought was agreed is later denied.

Get a copy of your offer

Once you’ve made an offer, the estate agent is obliged to send it on to the seller by letter, so ask them for a copy.

Remember who pays estate agents' fees

Estate agents are in business to arrange the sale of a property on behalf of the seller. They make their living from the commission they charge the seller (estate agents' fees are usually around 1.5%), so their duty is to them, not you.

Legislation is weighted in favour of protecting the seller against sharp practice. As the buyer, you have a limited amount of protection. 

It’s your legal right that estate agents:

  • can’t invent offers in order to force the price up
  • must use clear contract terms
  • must pass on your offer promptly - they can’t hold it back simply because you don’t want to use their other facilities, such as arranging a mortgage
  • must reveal any financial interest they have in the property that you’re looking at
  • must answer your direct questions accurately, although they don’t have to reveal defects in a property - if you’re given false information, you might have a claim against the agent under the Property Misdescriptions Act.

If you suspect that an agent has acted in breach of these regulations, you should contact the local authority’s trading standards department.

Visit our guide to how to sell a house for more information on dealing with estate agents when you are a seller.

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