Avoid the six sneaky tricks estate agents might try

Holly Thomas / 01 April 2015 ( 04 January 2017 )

Estate agents have got themselves a bit of a reputation for being untrustworthy. While the majority are honest, it is worth knowing some of the sneaky tricks of the trade to avoid getting caught out.

Only 22% of people trust estate agents – making them less trusted than bankers, according to a study by research group Ipsos Mori. It is understandable as many people have bad experiences, some costing large amounts of money.

According to the Property Ombudsman, there was a 42% increase in the number of complaints against estate agents from 2013 to 2014.

Follow our guide to the top estate agent sneaky tricks:

1. Lofty valuations

Over-estimating the value of your property to entice you to sign up is a classic trick by estate agents.

Overvaluing houses to secure business from sellers is a sure-fire way to stand out from the crowd. But when the valuation isn’t accurate, the property is harder to sell.

Get three or four valuations done and get a feel for the market from a spread of local agents.

10 things you should know before your house goes on the market

2. Long contracts

Don’t be fooled into signing the standard contract which might tie you to one agent for a prolonged period. You want to be able to switch agents if your first choice is failing at getting viewings or offers – or both.

Make sure you get the length of contract amended to a stretch you’re comfortable with.

3. Pretending their fees are fixed

Nonsense. Haggle with the quoted fee using any other cheaper fees you have been quoted by rivals in the area.

Seven quick fixes to help you sell your house

4. Convincing you to use their mortgage brokers

Many agents have a link or affiliation with a mortgage broker firm. They are unlikely to be independent and will most likely charge a fee.

While paying for mortgage advice could be good value if it means you get the best deal, there are some brokers who might do it for less – plus there are fee-free brokers in the UK, such as London & Country.

Estate agents often receive a commission for referring your business. Make sure you always shop around for the best deal to suit you – not the agent.

Whatever they tell you, it’s not “best” to use an in-house broker - it won’t speed anything up.

Eight ways to get the most from viewing a property

5. Faking it

Don’t get too involved in the hype of what agents tell you. If you are choosing between buyers, by all means use your own discretion. Don't be pressured into rushing in and accepting an offer if you're not entirely ready.

6. Failing to give feedback

Many agents will fail to take the time to offer crucial feedback on viewings.

 The Property Ombudsman cited communication breakdown as one of the top reasons for the increase in complaints. Make sure you press staff for feedback from viewings.

Finding it hard to sell your house? Read our guide to selling problematic properties. 

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.