But Agents could slow down recovery. Time to whistle-blow ‘questionable practices’?
With the recovery in the local property market gathering momentum, as both sales numbers and selling prices exceed previous recent years, the shortage of fresh properties coming to market has led to a number of local agents appearing to adopt what might at best be described as “questionable practices” and at worst seemingly contravening consumer legislation – or, as some might say“breaking the law” in their attempts to win new business.
Despite what appears to be a “mini boom” (our Open Houses in the first five weeks of this year already have attracted more viewers that the first nine weeks of last, resulting in record sales at “healthy” prices for our clients) the shortage of available stock is unusually low for the time of year and demand appears to be higher than ever. As eager buyers compete for the relatively few properties that are on the market and realistically-priced homes are receiving a great deal of attention – many
selling at appreciably more than they would have achieved even just a few months ago, it’s no surprise that enterprising agents are working hard to find more property to sell. However, unfortunately, some appear to be over-steeping the mark, reverting to practices such as door-knocking, touting, over-valuing and generally misleading potential sellers.
“The shortage of available stock is unusually low for the time of year and demand appears to be higher than ever”
The resulting effect can be to deter some sellers from entering the market and encourage others to over-inflate asking prices, which often deters buyers from offering or even viewing at all! More of this could serve to slow-down the market recovery or eventually even stagnate the market.
No such worries of the latter at present, with confidence in property high and availability of mortgages along with cash buyers at healthy levels but certainly a good time to query any such “questionable practices” if the local economy and community are to enjoy the benefits of increased sale activity in the local property market.
We are not talking about “booming” house sale prices but more sales means more people can move up or down market, potentially releasing more money into the local economy, paying for services and household goods and often releasing monies for dependent relatives, leisure, health and education etc.
Apart from the obvious unsavoury prospect of unsuspecting, property sellers being confronted on the door-step by suited gents or ladies with clip boards, pressing their unsolicited advances (We alone have had instances in recent weeks of people in their 70s and 80s being propositioned in this way) many practices such as making misleading statements or deliberately over-valuing to win business are covered by the Consumer Protection Regulations – if you come across them, feel free to contact the OFT.
Roger Wilkinson, Managing Director