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Agents are ’spivs with tape measures’ says angry press article

A right wing magazine once edited by Boris Johnson has called estate agents “spivs with tape measures” who conceal information from buyers.

In an article about leasehold properties the veteran Spectator contributor Ross Clark accuses agents of not wanting to tell buyers the remaining duration of leases on leasehold properties.

“So often when I see details of flats on Rightmove, there is no word whatsoever on any of these matters. It will just say ‘leasehold’. Even when I have rung up the estate agent he or she often doesn’t have a clue as to these details — or they don’t want to part with them” says Clark, who in the past has contributed on property matters to the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph.


He claims in The Spectator that in the 2000s the much-criticised Home Information Packs would have required agents to disclose leasehold lengths -  but that part of the pack’s provisions was abandoned because of wider opposition to other elements of HIPs.

“Estate agents should be bound to provide all the crucial details. They should have to tell you the length of the lease, who owns the freehold, how much the ground rent is and whether it rises with inflation or by doubling, and who manages the common parts of the building. They should be able to email you the full lease on request” insists Clark.

He says agents are more interested in telling prospective buyers about the brand of dishwasher in homes, and he laces his article with heavy sarcasm about agents.

In addition to the “spivs with tape measures” jibe, Clark calls agents “Kevin Whitesocks” and “the sharp-suited middleman in the Vauxhall Astra.”

His only praise for the profession appears to be because of the technology used in recent times.

He concedes: “Many have indeed become very good at offering good floor plans, fly-through videos and the like. The ability to get a good idea of the layout and the state of a property before you commit to viewing it saves everyone’s time.”

Here's the article.

  • icon

    It was a great article. Totally agreed with him. Crucial information is not given upfront.
    The NLC have raised this formally with RightMove

  • icon
    • 09 October 2020 02:12 AM

    EA hope dopey buyers don't realise about the important things with buying property.
    The evidence of this is proven by all the idiot homebuyers who bought leasehold properties and apparently didn't appreciate the difference between freehold and leasehold.
    How thick can they be!?

    The 4 fundamental things I want to know about a property are

    Is it freehold or leasehold?

    How long is the lease?

    How much are service charges?

    How much is the GR for now and future years.

    This is the information I want to see FIRST.
    After this then the property description etc can be given.
    It appears EA are nervous about advising of the true status and ramifications of certain property purchases.

  • Rob Hailstone

    When was the last time an agent used a tape meaure, wore white socks or drove a Vauxhall Astra:)

  • Paul Singleton

    It’s quite simple, ask whatever questions you want prior to viewing. If you can’t get the answers, don’t View. Couldn’t be much easier!

  • Graham Davidson

    Complete rubbish, I have not owned a tape measure for years, I just take a rough guess 😜

    Matthew Gardiner Legge

    Laugh out loud funny!

  • icon

    So a journalist is calling out an estate agent for withholding important information. Anyone else see the irony here!!

  • icon

    Haha always wondered why I shiny suit ,brown shoes is the new uniform.
    Personal last person I wld deal with.
    Whatever happened to our older local experts that didn't have to dress like a banker!! (Insert W)


    Comments in English ideally, please!

  • Andrew Ireland

    The definition of an agents responsibility to a client is to express opinion being economical with facts. I don’t think it’s got worse recently but the withdrawal of the Estate Agents Act has changed ea’s particulars for the worse

  • Nic  Chbat

    Another agent bashing generalistic, derogatory commentary from those who have no idea and use cliches from the 80's to sell their wares to old aged cronies. No thought for the hard working professionals, lets just tar them all with the same brush. No mention of the incompetence of the legal advisors who not only write the dodgy leases in the first place but whom are qualified to advise their clients not to buy them at the point of legal conveyancing. Basic terms of the lease should be available to all at the point of marketing, agreed, but it's not the agents fault the lease is dodgy and neither the buyer nor their solcitor are savvy enough to see that.

  • Richard Copus

    It is now a legal requirement for agents to give information about leases - their term, length of term unexpired, maintenance charges and ground rent - and this is embodied in the revised TPOS Code of Conduct. Of course, that doesn't mean anything for some practitioners and most good agents have been providing most of the info for years.

  • icon

    “Spivs with tape measures”, “Kevin Whitesocks” and “the sharp-suited middleman in the Vauxhall Astra.” - Was it a recycled article originally written in the 1980s?

    Anthony Alex

    It's a nasty piece which seeks to demean rather than inform. All good estate agents (yes, Ross, there are many!) know that to arrive at an exchange of contracts will be a whole lot easier if all relevant information is given at the outset.

  • icon
    • dkny
    • 09 October 2020 09:43 AM

    The guy is so wrong. Why on earth would I want to waste my time as I am not getting paid a penny unless the transaction exchanges. It’s a pleasure to disclose the truth.


    Their is the problem,
    Yes every agent gets tyre kickers.
    However one of those tyre kickers could make you a fortune.

  • Where Is The  Monii Money

    They forgot to mention the YSL Kouros aftershave that could strip wallpaper at 100 yards...

  • icon

    Agents not checking their facts - isn't it CPRs and not PMA these days - about time journalists started checking what they put into print before being quite so critical.


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