Property owners wanting to sell their homes may lose money enlisting the services of “quick-sale” estate brokers, according to the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team.
There are “dozens of cases of people losing tens of thousands of pounds off the market value of their homes” that have been reported.
There are property owners who are willing to settle with the value of their property being reduced, just so long as the deal is closed quickly, and there are, of these firms, who do deliver an upstanding service. However, according to investigator Alison Farrar, there are some that are being watched.
Despite the “valuable service” that some of these quick-sales agents offer, Radio 4's Money Box programme has heard of instances where the prices of these properties that were being sold were reduced by tens of thousands of pounds without the owner knowing it or allowing it.
Marianne Philipps £250,000 three bedroom semi was devalued by £20,000 by the estate firm she used without her knowing it.
Ms. Phillips who was "absolutely incredulous" said that:
"No way did I ever give my approval for that, I was absolutely devastated
It's a lot of money to reduce a house by without ever getting in touch with the person who owns it…
The equity I've built up in the house, they've just potentially wiped a lot of that out by reducing it by £20,000. It could have quite a dramatic effect on my future".
Such practice is not allowed by the law
According to Lee Reynolds, a lawyer who specialises in Trading Standards law, "dropping the price of someone's house is a potential breach of what's called Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading regulations. That's punishable by up to two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. If it was done knowingly or recklessly it's still a potential breach."
Where to complain
Anyone who feels that they’ve been treated unjustly by a quick sale agent can air their grievances to the:
* National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team
* The Property Ombudsman Limited
* Property Redress Scheme
UK estate agents must be registered either with the Property Ombudsman Limited or the Property Redress Scheme “which are able to issue financial awards to people who've been left out of pocket”.
Do your research
From Mark Hayward, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents Propertymark:
"I would warn people to make sure they've read the small print and to not be pushed into any price they're not comfortable with…
The safest way to get an estate agent is to look for one that is regulated and has professional indemnity insurance.
[Your house] is your biggest asset, don't be rushed into making any decision."
Home sellers risk losing money over quick sales