An estate agency that allegedly charges people a “buyer’s premium” has been criticised by politicians for unscrupulous “sharp practice”.
The Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says she will look into the agency - McEwan Fraser Legal - after the issue was raised in the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.
The Herald of Scotland newspaper says one MSP, Andy Wrightman, told Sturgeon that one of his constituents, who had been saving 12 years to buy his first home, had been asked to pay a premium fee of £2,940 on a £130,000 flat.
“If prospective buyers do not agree to pay it, the property is offered to the next bidder who can pay it. Does the First Minister agree that the buyer’s premium fee is an example of unscrupulous, unethical ... sharp practice by McEwan Fraser Legal?
Will her government look into the issue and assess the legality and morality of a practice that adds further costs to the process of buying a house?” asked Wrightman.
Sturgeon is quoted as replying: “I am happy to look further into that matter. I absolutely agree that fees that are charged by estate agents should be completely transparent and clear. I understand that the Scottish Government has recently received one complaint about the charging of a buyer’s premium.”
A spokeswoman for McEwan Fraser Legal told the newspaper: “If a buyer is unwilling to pay the buyer’s premium or believes the premium is not justified on any particular property, they simply don’t purchase the property or adjust their offer for the property accordingly – it is no more complicated than that.
"We believe the buyer’s premium has encouraged more sellers to bring their properties to the market, where they would have otherwise been put off with the high costs of buying and selling properties, particularly with the introduction of the Additional Dwelling Supplement."
The Additional Dwelling Supplement is the equivalent measure to the stamp duty three per cent surcharge on additional properties, levied in England and Wales.
You can see the full Herald of Scotland article here.