I genuinely wonder how agents who do this sleep at night.
Today I had a call from someone who booked a 1-1 video call with me a few months ago to discuss her purchase.
She was due to exchange and complete today, but said “something doesn’t feel right”.
The conduct of the agent in question (rhymes with locks-tonnes, has a fleet of green and yellow minis) boils my blood.
I honestly thought that sort of shyster behaviour had ended when it became a listed company, but no.
This buyer, a first time buyer in her later years, using a recent inheritance to buy her rest-of-life home, had been highly pressured.
On our first call, she said she wanted to buy it but was already being aggressively pressured to “hurry up and pay asking price because there are other buyers lining up”.
On my recommendation, she put forward an offer by email at the price she felt comfortable at, about 11% below asking price. I told her to ignore the phone calls she would then get and insist on a response by email.
They finally accepted her offer. (There were no other offers).
She instructed a conveyancer/solicitor of her own choice.
The solicitor correctly identified problems with the lease and said that a deed of variation would be required in order for the purchase to proceed.
The green and yellow mini-driving agent was “angry, and insisted I change conveyancers”.
I was not involved at this point and would have raised a red flag at that point had I known.
She said she felt as though she had no choice, and complied with their demands, to use the huge conveyancing firm the agent insisted upon.
This is where is gets weirder.
The first individual lawyer, assigned to her case from the large new conveyancer, identified the same issues with the lease that the original conveyancer had, and put these questions forward to the seller.
Before the buyer knew what had happened, her new lawyer, the one the agent insisted she use, was kicked off the case and replaced with another from the same firm, this time a female conveyancer as it happens.
This time, she asked the latest lawyer about the same questions and concerns about the lease that the previous two had raised. The response was: “I’m unable to advise you on that matter.”
What? The whole point of a lawyer is to provide legal advice! At the very least an opinion. But no.
For the last two months the agent and seller have been threatening to “pull out if you don’t exchange in the next 48 hours” but never followed through on the threat.
Another red flag.
Finally, today, she was told that “the things you’ve asked for are in hand and will be coming soon, but you must exchange today.”
That’s when she called me.
I can never tell someone what they should or shouldn’t do in a given situation, because it’s their life and their choice and their decision.
What I can do is say what I would do in that situation and why.
At the end of the call she dropped the throw-away line “actually my conveyancer [the most recent female one] has been asking me all the time if I’m sure I want to proceed with this purchase”.
I asked her why she thought the conveyancer had kept repeating that question.
The penny dropped. “Oh! She was trying to warn me off buying it without losing her job!”
She was one phone call away from exchanging and completing today, on a purchase that would have ruined the rest of her life, and left her open to unlimited leasehold liabilities in a virtually unsaleable flat.
Thank goodness she called me first.
How do people sleep at night when they make a living from bullying vulnerable people into life-ruining purchases?
Part 1 of my mission with BestAgent is Transparency in the housing market.
Part 2 is Accountability of agents.
The end of bad estate agency. Bring it on.