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Caught Red Handed - Agents ‘lying and deceiving’ to poach instructions

A London sales and lettings agent has revealed to Estate Agent Today some of the tactics used by his rivals in the competitive world of the capital’s market.

The agent operates in the Kensington area and wishes to remain anonymous but has identified himself to EAT and has kindly given us chapter and verse of two examples of sharp practice - possibly illegal practice - that occurred in quick succession last week.

The first incident concerned a property for sale in the SW7 area and involved a brazen tactic by a rival agent.


“Having had the request for a sub agency viewing of a property in SW7 with this particular agent, I was subsequently warned by another source that there would be a strong likelihood of them trying to use the viewing as an attempt to swoop in on an instruction. However, naively wanting to believe the best in people, I continued with the viewing as requested” says our contact.

He continues: “Arriving at the property and expecting to meet said agent and their buyer, I was informed that – last minute – their buyer had had to cancel, but they would be ‘taking videos and photos’ of the property in their absence.” 

He says the usual kinds of questions were asked and the viewing took place with the vendor in situ. 

“However, in the back of my mind I had the warning, and so rather than heading back to the office I rounded the corner, watched back to the front door of the building and to my (somewhat small) surprise this agent headed back, rang the bell and went into the property… 

“I went back, rang the bell and went in, asking this agent to please leave and then had to explain to a rather confused and rattled client why this person had come back by themselves. A week or so later, I had a call from the client saying she had received a letter from this agent pushing for instruction which was subsequently binned.”

The second concerns a client who had been marketing their property to let through our legitimate agent and two other local firms. 

However, at the end of last week the agent received a call from the client saying they had seen their £1,500 per week flat marketed by another company they had never heard of and had not spoken with. 

“This is obviously an agent who, having few instructions, is chancing their arm by cropping photographs online, mocking up their own details and then (without their own access to the flat) pushing the property out on a sub agency basis and gaining access via fully instructed agents” says our informant.

He says this is not only frustrating and disconcerting to the client but more worryingly the practice raises concern as to whether the rogue agent who mocks up their own details undertakes appropriate due diligence and anti-money laundering checks.

Our legitimate agent contact says that although these two incidents had critical differences, one common factor was that, if caught, the culprits might receive no more than a tap on the wrist and a telling off not to do it again.

“It’s so easy for someone (an instructed agent or indeed a client) to find out that it’s a scam, and it makes me wonder whether the risk of being caught is worth the attempt to gain a small fee” he says.

“Regardless of what I feel, I am sure that there would be a number of other agents - the one who warned me in the first place demonstrating this - who would have a similar situation occur with their clients and properties” says our contact. 

And he concludes: “Perhaps it’s indicative of the market that people are pushed to lie and deceive, but I personally feel there’s no place for actions like these.”

Our thanks to the agent who gave us the details of these incidents - and we look forward to hearing readers’ comments on these tactics.

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    This agency could be any of three suspects in SW7........

  • Chris JaiBahadur

    Unfortunately this kind of sharp practice continues around the country not just in the capital.
    In my area certain agents actually knock on the door of the properties I am marketing. In the pass I have reported these breeches of the likes of ARLA and others but to no avail.
    We are in a industry/profession where this is the norm and professional integrity is ignored for greed.

  • edward apostolides

    I had an incident many years ago whereby I had a competing agency bold as brass simply knock on my clients door! The client gave him short shrift however I made my feelings clear to his boss (whom I knew). Although apologetic his boss put it down to over zealous enthusiasm. He didn't do it again to any of my instructions although that's hardly the point. This sort of practise is rife across the UK and it's committed by large chains and small independents. There is also the old compliment slip ruse "please contact us urgently concerning your sale" etc more silly and dirty tricks to gain some sort of dialogue with another agents clients. I can't print what I think of these idiots.

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    • 07 May 2019 20:14 PM

    Surely most clients are signed up for a period of time to an exclusive instruction!?
    They can't breach such a legally binding contract.
    If they do they could find themselves liable to pay commission to 2 EA!!!
    Not a wise move for a vendor!!

  • icon

    I worked for an Agency who actively encouraged 'Door knocking' and berated the valuers and negotiators who didn't do it. I find the practice abhorrent and plainly unsafe - you don't know whose door you're knocking on! I always refused, despite the director having a good rant at me about the fact I wouldn't do it. A lot of the valuers were happy to do it - anything to boost their figures. The sad fact was, it worked.


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