Q. I am a first time buyer in the UK and although I have previously bought in my homeland I am a complete novice to the British property market. I made an offer which was accepted last week on a super property that I would love to secure. However my Estate Agent has told me that if I don’t use both their financial advisor and their recommended solicitor then I am at risk of losing the property. Having had a quote from their solicitor they are charging at least three times the amount of the one a colleague at work recommended. Will I really lose the property? Surely this cannot be right?
A. Most Estate Agents have both a recommended Financial Advisor and a Solicitor that they recommend to potential purchasers and sellers. Given many buyers are first time like yourself it helps to be able to recommend someone that is not only efficient but whom the agent has a relationship with as this means the whole purchasing and selling process is handled with speed and efficiency. However this is only ‘a recommendation’ and certainly we will advise a buyer that if he uses our recommendations then the sale/purchase is likely to be a smoother transaction given the relationship between them and the agent, it means we are able to keep on top of things and indeed act quickly if things start to go wrong as they often do in this precarious property game. At no time whatsoever though should an agent ever threaten a buyer that he is at risk of losing a property if he doesn’t run with your recommendation especially when you discover they are charging unethical rates such as those mentioned. As in any industry there are still rogue agents amongst us that carry out such practices and certainly if the sellers knew that their sales were being jeopardised in such an unprofessional manor I am sure they would think twice about using such agents. I can only once again politely remind you to use a regulated agent that belongs to the NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents). Agents that are members stick to a strict code of practice and would never indulge in such unethical practices, and if they are members and are practicing such things you can report them to The Property Ombudsman a redress Scheme that offers a free, fair and independent service for buyers, Sellers, tenants and Landlords of property in the UK.