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Estate agents / Unethical behavior!

1 United Kingdom
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I am posting this entry because I have just been gazumped by the owners and the agents of the property at Flat 2, 4 Greencroft Gardens, London NW6 3LS, and duped of the money and time I had put into the deal. I am writing about this for two reasons:

- To inform the general public about another instance of duping and rogue play by property agents.
- To inform any buyer planning to buy this property of the actual price and events, so that no one else is duped in the same way as I have been.

I put an offer on this property beginning of November 2007 and it was accepted at just about £ 400,000. Mind you, this is already a bit higher than the prices of the comparable recently sold prices in the area (details available at www.thisishouseprices.co.uk). I was awarded an exclusivity period by the agent and owners, and promised that no one else will be allowed to bid for the property while it is under offer on the agent's website. I got the survey done the next day after the offer was accepted - it highlighted several structural problems like subsidence of foundation and property floors and suggested a lot of areas where the property will need massive investments. For instance, the bathroom floor has a major subsidence and will alone take £ 10,000-15,000 to correct. Also there are cracks in the external building walls which need work. Overall, the estimate for the repairs and investments to avoid any risk of a crashing floor or widening of cracks at critical locations came out to be £ 15,000 - 20,000.

Given these defects, we were obviously skeptical of what additional costs we are looking at. So we sent the survey report to the landlord's management company responsible for managing the property. And surprise surprise! the management company failed to revert back to us with the answers because the landlords created a bottleneck there by not passing the requisite fees to the management company to release the requisite information. I found this morally wrong, unprofessional and unethical to create artificial bottlenecks to slow down the deal.

Then the agent came back to us saying that the owners have received another offer of £ 420,000 and hence they are asking us to increase the offer. I found this to be extremely unethical on the part of the owners and the agent to accept other offers even when we were moving the deal forward full throttle. Further, when I asked the agent to send me in writing that they have received another offer (to pre-empt the chance of any foul play), they said that they cannot do so. Obviously this indicates that either there was no offer or that the agent was showing around the property even after the sale was agreed. This just goes on to prove how unethical these agents are.

Finally, I REFUSED to increase the offer by any significant amount on on moral grounds and have pulled out of the deal. However I decided that I am not going to take this kindly and will go on to expose the unethical behavior and possibly foul play by the agents and the owners of 4, greencroft gardens, london. So two scenarios:

Scenario 1 - There is no buyer and the agents are just lying and posturing to up the offer:

- In this case this entry will serve to expose the agent / owners and their unethical tactics
- This entry should serve as a benchmark for any future buyers on this property (feel free to email me as I have done detailed due diligence on this property and can provide you the insights survey report and other analysis for FREE! :-)

Scenario 2 - There is actually a buyer who is paying £ 420,000 for this property
- In this case, this entry should help the buyer understand that he is overpaying an amount way too far than the property deserves
- I would advise him to get a detailed due diligence done on the property (especially the floors, windows, etc.) to get an idea of how much additional money this property is going to drink (our starting estimates are approx £ 15,000-20,000).

Let me just leave two final pieces of advice to any prospective home buyers:

1) - Do not ever get into a bidding race with anyone. Every property has a price and the price can vary across people. You surely don't want to spend life in a house with the realization that you overpaid for the house. London is now gradually turning into a buyer's market and you will find ample number of properties (as a happy ending, let me add that I found another property too!)

2) - Even the biggest and the most 'we are ethical professionals' agents are unethical ### walking this planet. Do not ever believe a word of what they are saying. For anything that sounds dubious, ask them to put it down in writing. I have done the same on every step of my interaction with them (even the most minor ones!) so that later on if you have to file a complaint against them, you have enough arsenal in hand.

Finally, feel free to send to me any similar stories around rogue agents & unethical landlords and I will publish them on this blog. I think it will be a great source for our fellow buyers and will ensure that we can save as many people as possible from being duped at the hands of the unethical practices in the property market. Good luck with your house search.

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