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How To Complain About Your Estate Agent?

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The relationship you have with your estate agent when buying or selling a house should be based on trust.

You need to be sure that this professional is working hard and efficiently to help you reach your goals. They are a very important part of the transaction process, and their assistance will bring positive results.

But if you don’t get the desired results, don’t trust them, or there are communication issues or illegal activities, how can you complain about your estate agent?

This guide will provide useful information on the role of an estate agent, how to go about making a complaint, and the complaint process.

It will also tell you about other resources that can help you with the complaint process, alternative options to using an estate agent, and tips for avoiding problems.

Table of Contents

Understanding What Your Estate Agent Should Be Doing

The housing market can be unpredictable, and some factors are beyond the control of an estate agent, even if they are highly experienced and skilled.

You may not find a house within your desired price range, or you may not get the asking price you feel your home is worth when selling.

If you and your estate agent decide that it is in your best interest, then you may need to make certain compromises. We do not mean ‘complain’ if you want to pay less or get more.

We are referring to the complaints process if your estate agent is not performing as expected or not complying with the law.

The first step is to understand their legal obligations to you. This includes complying with the guidelines set by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs) including:

  • Specific information with property listings, such as the council tax band or rate,
  • The price, whether the property is freehold or leasehold, and details of any reservation fees;
  • Informing the seller of any offers promptly and in writing;
  • Ensuring that all information provided verbally, in writing or via images is accurate;
  • Providing information to prospective buyers to help them make good decisions;
  • Not pressuring any party to move quickly to put in an offer, raise a price, forgo a survey or exchange contracts;
  • Having a complaints procedure in place; providing details of all fees in writing before finalising an agreement;
  • Explaining what ‘sole selling rights’, ‘sole agency’ and ‘ready, willing and able purchaser’ mean if they are used in the contract; and not showing or demonstrating any bias towards potential buyers.

What Now?

Maybe your estate agent did break the law. It could be that they strayed from the boundaries while treating you unfairly or with a lack of ethics.

No matter what, this is both irritating and frightening: what if it affects your ability to buy or sell to reach your objectives? Before you rush to court, let’s see what options you have.

How To Complain About Your Estate Agent
The housing market can be unpredictable, and some factors are beyond the control of an estate agent, even if they are highly experienced and skilled.

Complain Using Their Internal Complaints Process

As you go through the process of selecting an estate agent, make sure to check if they have a strong complaints process.

Of course, you should do your research and hope for the best, but it is important to build confidence in the process at each step. Submit your grievance and let them investigate and work towards solving the issue. Be prepared – this is why you should save everything!

To do this, you will need:

  • Ask your estate agent for a copy of their internal complaints policy and code of conduct.
  • Copies of every letter, email, document, note, image, and recording of conversations with the estate agent. Make sure to keep records.
  • Write out your complaint and address it to the manager of the firm or agent if they are independent. Make it clear how the estate agent failed to meet standards or violated their code of conduct.
  • Explain what you would like to happen next. Don’t just raise a problem; have a potential solution ready. You will be more likely to have a good outcome if you directly ask for it.
  • Provide copies of all relevant documents.
  • Ask for written confirmation with the name of the person who will handle your complaint.
  • Request a timeline for the review. You should receive an answer within 15 days.

This may be enough to fix the problem and let you move ahead with more certainty.

Make a Complaint with the Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme

It may not be possible to reach a satisfactory outcome through an internal complaints process. Check which scheme your estate agency is affiliated with – either the Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme – and take the necessary steps.

These organisations offer free, impartial and independent services that help you manage any disputes with your estate agent.

They can investigate your claim and offer potential solutions. The Ombudsman carries out impartial investigations, taking information from both you and the estate agent and examining the facts of the situation.

They also decide if any action is required and what this looks like if you can’t reach an agreement.

Around 95% of estate agents are part of the Property Ombudsman body, which managed more than 5100 complaints in 2020. It supported 65% of these complaints.

Unfortunately, the awards offered are usually quite small (the average in 2020 was £653).

If you do accept an offer, make sure you do so on a ‘without prejudice’ basis and do not accept a full and final settlement. If you do, you may not be able to proceed with your complaint through the Ombudsman.

Issue a Complaint with Their Trade Association

Again, as you search for the right estate agent, make sure that they belong two either the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) Propertymark or the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

If they violate professional standards and regulations, break the rules of membership or commit an act which goes against the code of practice, they may face disciplinary action.

How To Make a Court Claim
If the estate agent has acted outside of the law, this may be a necessary step. Judges are more likely to take your case seriously if you have already tried other methods of getting redress.

Make a Court Claim

This situation is tough and time-consuming, and it can be costly too. If the estate agent has acted outside of the law, this may be a necessary step. Judges are more likely to take your case seriously if you have already tried other methods of getting redress.

They want to see that you first attempted to resolve the issue with the estate agent and their firm, and if that did not work, you then tried to escalate it.

Resources That Can Help

If you feel that you need to file a complaint against your estate agent, there are a few helpful resources out there to assist you.

These can help guide you through the process and ensure that your complaint is properly addressed.

These include:

The Property Ombudsman has lots of helpful information and advice on their website. They answer common questions, give sample complaint letters, tell you how and when to make a complaint, explain when to take your complaint to the Property Ombudsman and more.

This is an incredibly useful resource as you work out your next steps.

How do I get out of an estate agent contract
Find helpful information about what estate agents are responsible for and advice on how to handle complaints.

Citizens Advice

This resource is great and provides impartial, independent information. It can help you answer major questions and provide some guidance on how to move forward.

Home Owners Alliance

Find helpful information about what estate agents are responsible for and advice on how to handle complaints.

Learn more about the duties of estate agents and how to effectively address any grievances. Get the information you need to make decisions that are best for you.

Skip the Stress

It is possible to avoid the challenges, misconduct and mistreatment associated with estate agents by eliminating them. To begin, it is important to note that while there is no legal requirement to work with an estate agent, it is highly recommended to protect your investment.

Alternatively, you may find it more beneficial to pursue a quick sale. Cash house buyers are experienced in handling fast transactions and can deposit the money directly into your bank within days.

The downside is that you will typically receive 80-85% of the total market value, but you will also avoid paying the fees associated with an estate agent, as well as expenses for repairs and improvements.

If you have considered the advantages and disadvantages and determined that a fast sale is preferable, then a cash house buyer may be the ideal solution. You could also look into property auctions or For Sale By Owner situations, depending on your goals.

Can I sue my estate agent for negligence UK
Taking the time to do your research now will help you avoid problems further down the line.

Prevent Problems Before They Start

If you choose to work with an estate agent, it’s important to take steps to reduce the risk of any potential issues. Do your research when selecting an agent; take your time, and get on Google to find out as much as you can.

The estate agent should have an internal complaints procedure, as well as belong to a governing body that ensures ethical and professional standards are met.

Additionally, the estate agent should have a clear and informative website, a lot of positive reviews and client testimonials, a record of successful property sales and completed transactions, a professional communication style, and thorough internal processes to ensure the best outcome for clients.

Taking the time to do your research now will help you avoid problems further down the line. It won’t guarantee that everything runs smoothly, as sometimes people can be deceptive.

Nonetheless, it will go a long way in preventing any issues that can affect your transaction and goals.

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