Can Estate Agents Lie About Offers?
Estimated reading time 5 minutes
Selling your home is an immensely significant and challenging process. For the majority of people it is the most financially significant decision they will ever make. If you choose to sell through the traditional open market method, you will have the estate agent of your choice guiding you through every step of the sale. If they do their job properly, they will work tirelessly to protect your interests and ensure your property sells for the highest value possible in a reasonable timeframe.
However, the reality of modern estate agency is that it is a commission based, meaning that agents make their money only on the successful sale of a property. This has created a widespread (although not universal) culture of aggressively pushing agents keen to get properties sold, often at the expense of the seller’s best interests.
It is important to point out that the industry is full of skilled, professional, and virtuous estate agents. These agents use their market knowledge to protect the interests of their clients and enjoy flawless reputations as a result. Like in any industry, these expert estate agents exist alongside more unscrupulous operators that use their confidence, knowledge, and experience in property to manipulate the seller into accepting offers under the guise of well-intentioned professional advice.
Do estate agents lie about offers to potential buyers?
While any established high street agent will publicly state that lying about offers is not permitted, and within the property industry it is undoubtedly a taboo, individual estate agents will commonly lie about offers to further their interests. Normally (but not always) without informing the senior management at their firm. Lying about offers will leave agents at risk of action by the Property Ombudsman if a complaint is made, which can have immense financial and reputational damage. The most common reason for agents to present fake offers is to improve the appearance of a real offer. If an agent receives a real offer of £100,000 and presents it in conjunction with several offers below £90,000, they may believe this will make the higher (real) offer seem more attractive, thus increasing the chance of the seller accepting and them receiving their commission.
Is it illegal for estate agents to lie about offers?
Any established and reputable estate agent will be registered with the Property Ombudsman – a not for profit regulatory body of the property industry. The Ombudsman councils private individuals who are escalating complaints against agents for malpractice. As well as this they hold all members to a strict and clear Code of Conduct. Any agent found breaching this Code of Conduct by manufacturing fake offers or some other infraction puts themselves at risk of litigation, fines, and irreversible harm to their image.
Common lies from estate agents
This is unquestionably the most common lie within estate agency and possibly the property industry as a whole. When an approach to an estate agent is made by a prospective seller, an agent will routinely value the property far higher than they truly believes it is worth. This is done in the belief that this high valuation will capture the optimism of the seller and secure them as a client, when the property fails to sell the agent will simply suggest a reduction and eventually sell the property for a realistic value, after potentially months of wasted time.
Another common lie within estate agency revolves around viewings. In order to present an image of high interest, an estate agent will push for as many viewings as possible even if they know the potential buyers aren’t right for the property, this creates the illusion of them doing a good job of creating maximum interest.
As mentioned, many agents break the code of trust with their clients by lying about offers, this can be creating fake offers to manipulate the seller into accepting a particular offer or making up offers in an attempt to push a buyers bid higher.
How do I know an offer for my property is real?
As the client, you are entitled to ask for proof of an offer in writing, if an agent is resistant to provide proof, possibly claiming it’s in the name of privacy or data protection, you may have a fake offer on your hands.
What to do if an estate agent lies about offers
If you want to escalate an offers complaint to official channels, make an official complaint to the agency (and keep a record of this). If the response to your complaint is not sufficient, you can escalate the issue to the Property Ombudsman and may be entitled to compensation, especially if the agent’s actions affected the sale of your property directly and clearly. Another course of action would be to ask to be released from your agency contract immediately, citing the lies as the reason, most agents will allow you to do so to prevent you escalating the matter further.
With Gaffsy you will never have to worry about lies regarding offers and valuations. Our route to sale is completely transparent for all our customers. Furthermore, because we can help with a fast house sale due to being cash house buyers, you can rest assured that the cash offer we provide for your home is researched thoroughly by our property experts. Why not get a free cash offer today and see what we could offer you for your home?