Estate agents are in control of your home purchase.  They act as a conduit between the vendor and you. They act for the vendor, not you.  Estate agents must, however, follow a code of practice when they receive your offer. We take a look at the most common questions which arise when you reach the offer stage .

Does an estate agent have to disclose offers ?

The estate agent has an obligation to pass your offer to the vendor.  The only exception is if the vendor has instructed the agent not to. This is known as “not excepting offers”.  It might be that the vendor has asked not to be notified of offers below a threshold or they have already accepted another offer.

The estate agent has said there is a higher offer in, will this always be true ?

This depends on the quality of the estate agent. It was a commonly used trick to persuade a buyer to increase their offer. A recent change in legislation changed house selling from “buyer beware” to “buyer aware” . This means that the estate agent must make you aware of any factor which could affect your decision.  This should, therefore, prevent the estate agent from making false statements.

If you are in doubt, ask for evidence of the other offer.  If the agent is unwilling to give this, say that this is forming part of your decision. Do this by email so you can refer back to it should you need to.  You should be wary of upping your offer in the absence of any evidence that other offers exist.

The estate agent has asked for a deposit.

This is more common as buyers drop out of lengthy chains. You should decide whether or not you are willing to provide the deposit.  Make sure you get a copy of the deposit holding agreement BEFORE you hand over any money.  Check that the deposit is refundable if your not at fault in the breakdown of the sale. You can also ask for the deposit to be refundable for a series of events, say, failing a survey.  We always recommend taking legal advice beforehand.

Can I tell the estate agent to take the house I have offered on “off the market”

The estate agent acts for the seller. They are mandated to represent their best interests. You are in a negotiation and with every negotiation you can always ask ! Some people make their offer conditional on the property being taken off the market.  It is up to the vendor whether or not they d0.

I have been told that I have to use the estate agents conveyancing services.

Some estate agents may claim your offer is more likely to be accepted if you use their mortgage broker or conveyancing services.  This is unlikely to be a condition imposed by the vendor.  The estate agent earns additional fees from their recommended providers.  As a result, you will pay these additional and unnecessary costs.

If you really want the house you can tell the agent that you will report them to NSEAT (this is the national trading standards unit that deals with estate agency) . It is difficult to take action on this.  Consider contacting the vendor.  Tell them that you are being coerced into something that is for the benefit of the estate agent, not the home seller.

If you want impartial advice call our team on 0800 975 0334.  We will be happy to help.