Do estate agents purposely leave property ads for us to call and share our contact details?

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My partner and I have just started looking to buy our first home. We have our hearts set on one particular area, and after scouring Rightmove over the past two weeks, we’ve lined up four available properties that we’ve been looking forward to checking out.

However, every time we phoned an estate agent to book a viewing, they told us that the property had just been put up for an offer.

Given that two of these properties had been on the market for over a month, according to Rightmove, we find this deeply suspect.

The agents asked us to share our personal information, requirements and budget, which we refused. We really don’t want to receive endless emails and phone calls from them regarding properties that we can already view online.

Sellers Market: There are 26 potential buyers for every available property, according to Propertymark – so buyers are advised to keep agents on their side

We have decided to set up Rightmove alerts in order to be notified as soon as a new property in our search area arrives on the market.

But it got us wondering if real estate agents deliberately leave properties listed as “for sale” even though they are “under offer”?

Are they allowed to do this, and is this just a trick to trick us into giving them our personal information and requirements?

Is there any benefit in sharing our details and requirements with local agents? Surely, if we respond quickly to new Rightmove advertisements, it should serve us well? By email

This is Money’s Ed Magnus responds: Almost all house hunters will experience this at some point during their property search.

Morally speaking, this may seem wrong. After all, if you were a buyer whose offer was accepted, you would probably want the listing on Rightmove to reflect that.

But from a business perspective, it makes sense for a realtor to keep a property available for sale even after it’s been listed.

They want people to get in touch so they can add them to their books for future listings, or potentially help them sell their existing home.

According to professional buying agent, Henry Pryor, some agents keep properties listed as

According to professional buying agent Henry Pryor, some agents keep properties listed as “available for sale” until contracts are exchanged in case the original buyer backs out.

It also allows the estate agent to find replacement buyers for the property should the deal fail.

Additionally, telling a buyer that they just passed by a home creates a sense of urgency, making properties appear to be snapping up quickly.

Agents have a vested interest in encouraging buyers to act quickly, but in today’s hot market, it makes sense.

The average real estate agency has 23 homes available for 590 registered property hunters, according to Propertymark, the association of estate agents.

This means there are 26 potential buyers for every available property, so those who don’t act quickly can often be the losers.

Before the pandemic, the last time demand approached this level was in early 2004.

At the time, there were an average of 52 properties per branch being contested by 487 house hunters: about nine buyers for every available property.

In today’s competitive market, many buyers will sign up for estate agent mailing lists for fear of missing out on a property – even if the constant emails are an annoyance.

To help answer our reader’s question, we spoke to Ewen Buntingproperty surveyor at James Pendleton Independent Estate Agents, and Henry Priorprofessional buying agent.

Do agents list “under offer” homes as being for sale?

Ewen Bunting responds: You’re right to be suspicious, and it seems likely that you and your partner have fallen victim to a pretty sharp practice.

Although it’s not illegal, some real estate agents leave under-listed properties marked as available on their sites in an effort to fill more inquiries and gain more registered buyers.

Good news for buyers: new Trading Standards rules could require agents to be more transparent with online property listings

Good news for buyers: new Trading Standards rules could require agents to be more transparent with online property listings

I know several agents who do this regularly. One way to spot this is that their website will rarely show homes marked as “sold”.

Henry Pryor responds: Some agents keep properties listed as “available” until the contracts are exchanged, which is extremely annoying if you are a buyer, but can be very helpful for the seller.

I have campaigned my entire professional career for this to change and websites may soon have to update their status or face sanctions from Trading Standards.

What information should real estate agents include in property listings?

The new Trading Standards rules for real estate listings will take place in three stages:

Phase A: by the end of May 2022

Agents will be required to include a property’s council tax bracket or rate, property price and tenure on all listings – ending the practice of describing homes as ‘price on request’ “.

Phase B and C: Date to be confirmed

Two more phases are being developed which will incorporate other important information such as covenants, flood risk and other specific factors that may impact certain properties.

National Trading Standards wants all “important information” to be mandatory on property listings once all three phases of the project are completed.

At this stage, agents will need to include all required information before it is listed on a property portal.

It is not yet clear whether a property being offered will be classified as “material information”.

Why do agents do this?

Ewen Bunting responds: This often happens with particularly desirable properties, as house hunters who show interest will be good candidates to buy equally expensive homes that fetch high agent fees.

Additionally, if agents see that you already own a home and are considering moving locally, data acquisition can be a way to generate future leads.

It is a risky trick to play though, as a buyer who sees that the home they are buying is still up for sale may feel like they are being used as a trail horse to attract more bids and risk. to be gassed. They are unlikely to want to use this agent in the future.

Do buyers have to share their contact details?

Henry Pryor responds: Agents can’t send you suitable properties if you don’t tell them what you’re looking for.

We are also in a seller’s market right now. Buyers need agents more than agents need buyers.

You are not their customer – the salesperson is – and in this market you have to race.

If you sit back and assume that Rightmove or Zoopla will take care of you, you will be very disappointed.

Instead, you need to make it clear to real estate agents that striking a deal with you will be both easy and straightforward.

Ewen Bunting responds: You would be perfectly entitled to refuse to share your details, but one of the advantages of registering with local agents is that you are likely to hear about new homes coming on the market a few days before they do not appear on real estate portals.

This is due to the time it takes to do due diligence on a new seller and organize photos, floor plans and an accurate description of their property.

Are there any details they should remember?

Henry Pryor responds: Many people fear that if they give agents a budget, they will be forced to pay more.

It does not make sense. Lottery winners do not pay more for properties than other people. In this market, you need to appear both pragmatic and flexible.

They have a lot of buyers right now and can choose who to sell to.

They don’t want to deal with someone trying to look smart, they want someone who knows what they want and can demonstrate that they can deliver on their promises.

So be clear on your “must haves”, don’t worry too much about “likes”, and add 10% to your budget to allow for optimistic sellers and their agents.

What details are agents allowed to keep under GDPR rules?

If you receive emails or phone calls that you don’t want, data protection rules mean you have the right to have your information deleted. This is called the “right to erasure”.

You can make this request to the agent verbally or in writing, but a A written record is always advisable as it means you have clear proof of your claim should you later decide to dispute the agent’s response.

The agent must delete your data, unless a waiver of data protection law applies – for example, if they are legally required to retain your data in order to comply with financial or other regulations.

This may be necessary when you have purchased a property through one of their offices.

When it comes to purchases or sales, the code of practice requires estate agents to retain transaction data for six years.

If there are no exemptions, the officer will need to delete your information. It must also notify any other parties with whom it has shared your data.

A real estate agent has one calendar month to respond to your request.

If you are unhappy with the way they are handling your request, you should first raise a concern and give them the opportunity to resolve the issue.

If you are still not satisfied, you can file a complaint with the ICO.

You can also seek to enforce your rights in court. If you decide to do so, you should first seek independent legal advice.

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