Pair claim they lost chance to buy home after refusing mortgage service

A couple have complained in their local newspaper that they lost out on buying a property because they refused to use the estate agent’s own mortgage broker.

The agent, Connells, says it is looking into the complaint, although emphasising that Connells’ in-house mortgage services are entirely optional.

The pair, Chris Cunningham and Becky Isaac, claim they were told their offer on a property had been accepted.

They say they were then told the property would not be taken off the market unless they used Connells own mortgage services.

Mr Cunningham said: “We refused because we already had an independent broker lined up.”

The pair have reportedly made a formal complaint to Connells.

The paper went to the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team at Powys County Council for an opinion, and was told that it is not illegal for an estate agent to say they will keep a property on the market unless a buyer uses the agent’s in-house mortgage broker.

Connells said the couple’s offer had not been accepted by the vendor, but is investigating.

A spokesperson said: “We take every customer complaint extremely seriously and we are very keen to look into this fully. However, I have spoken to the branch manager who has informed me that Mr Cunningham’s offer was never formally accepted by the vendor and that the vendor accepted another offer for a significantly higher amount.

“There was a flat fee commission rate attached to this property so a higher price would not have meant a higher commission for Connells.”

“Connells’ in-house mortgage services are entirely optional and have no bearing whatsoever on a buyer’s ability to secure a property through one of our branches. Staff are instructed to treat all buyers equally, regardless of whether they opt to use additional services or not.”


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  1. smile please

    Surely the agent wrote to both parties to confirm the offer was made and subsequently accepted or rejected?

    If they did not write to them then i would say they have half a case but sounds like the agent although aggressive did nothing wrong.

  2. Woodentop

    “The paper went to the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team at Powys County Council for an opinion, and was told that it is not illegal for an estate agent to say they will keep a property on the market unless a buyer uses the agent’s in-house mortgage broker”.

    Has the OFT Estate Agents Practice Orders been abolished?

    1. Bob Leydon

      OFT was originally responsible for redress schemes (TPO and OS:P) but its duties were taken over by other agencies on 13 June 2014 (I think). Although the OFT no longer exists the obligations formerly enforced by the OFT continue and indeed are now more strict under newer CPRs.  

      Estate agency conduct is now governed by Powys CC which deals with enforcing the EAA ’79.   Where a dispute arises with local Trading Standards Officers (TSOs),  Warwickshire Trading Standards have a ‘Primary Authority Status’  whereby members of certain redress schemes (ARLA and NAEA) can rely on ‘Warwickshire’ for a definitive response.

      Redress Schemes are governed by Anglesey CC.

      There is no legal duty for a seller to honour acceptance of any offer to buy property until exchange of contracts – hence the freedom to gazump and gazunder.  There is a duty for the agent to act in the best interests of its client seller to achieve the best price together with a duty of care to it’s customer buyer.

      Disappointment can often cause ill feeling and claims of ‘unfair’! 

  3. PeeBee

    Interesting – and I would say highly relevant – snippet from the original news article:

    “This is now the third property with various estate agents which has fallen through for the future Mr and Mrs Cunningham…”

    Of course they simply could be “unlucky” – but we all know that words like these usually tell a story of their own…

  4. Paul F

    Wasn’t there a chanel 4 dispatches or similar programme all about this practice? I was under the impression it was fairly common practice among estate agents with in-house mortgage brokers? I struggle to see how any in-house broker can make many sales without targeting the buyers/sellers who are already using the estate agency.

    I have personally experienced this with Connells when we were very much made to feel that we had to use their in house broker to secure the purchase – so we did as we wanted the house. Paid £400 for a service I could have got elsewhere for  free.

    1. Woodentop

      There was a type of TV watch dog programme some years ago that exposed a corporate agency, for training staff to manipulate buyers, they even gazunderd vendors telling them that the original buyer had pulled out (not using their MA service) when they infact hadn’t, or so the members of the public interviewed claimed.
      By law the estate agent must not discriminate, or threaten to discriminate, against a prospective buyer of the seller’s property because that person declines to accept the estate agents (directly or indirectly) provided services to them.
      Discrimination by estate agents includes – but is not limited to – the following:

      Failing to tell the seller of an offer to buy the property.
      Telling the seller of an offer less quickly than other offers the agent received.
      Misrepresenting the nature of the offer or that of rival offers.
      Giving details of properties for sale first to those who have indicated they are prepared to let you provide services to them.
      Making it a condition that the person wanting to buy the property must use any other service provided by you or anyone else.




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