Q. The estate agent I am buying through says that according to the rules laid down by The Property Ombudsman, he needs to see proof of my financial position. I have access to more than enough funding, but I don’t want to show my hand until my offer
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A. The relevant section of The Property Ombudsman’s Code of Conduct actually says that the agent “must take reasonable steps to find out from the prospective buyer the source and availability of his funds for buying the property and pass this information to the seller….These reasonable steps must continue after acceptance of the offer until exchange of contracts…”
So, in other words, this agent is absolutely right to ask to see proof of your financial position. He would be in breach of the Ombudsman’s code if he didn’t. And in the event that the sale subsequently fell through over money matters, the seller would have legitimate grounds for complaint.
Of course, you are under no obligation to co-operate if you don’t wish to. However, you need to be prepared for the consequences. The agent would then take your offer back to his client and tell him that as a result of your unwillingness to co-operate, he had not been able to confirm your financial bona fides. And although ultimately it is always the seller’s decision whether or not to proceed, the agent would be doing less than his duty to his client if he did not recommend a suitable course of action. In this case, for example, if the seller were still minded to accept your offer, the agent might well suggest that he should continue to actively market the property until such time as appropriate reassurance was eventually forthcoming.
On one level, of course, your reluctance to confirm your financial status is quite natural. But quite frankly, this sale is unlikely to be agreed at all until you do – except on the kind of conditional basis I have already suggested. After all, what would you think if the boot were on the other foot, you were the seller, and your agent came and told you that someone wanted to buy your home, but wasn’t prepared to supply any proof of his ability to proceed?
I thought so!