ASK THE EXPERT


The agents I am buying through have implied that my ability to proceed may depend on using their preferred financial advisor. However, I already know an advisor who was very helpful last time I moved. What should I do?

A. Under the Estate Agents Act 1979, by which all agents are bound, it is expressly forbidden to show any discrimination towards a potential buyer because he or she chooses not to buy a related service.

In other words, you are perfectly within your rights to decline to use this agent’s financial advisor. What’s more, the agent concerned is effectively breaking the law by implying that failure to do so could jeopardise your chances of a successful purchase.

Nevertheless…as is so often the case with the way the property market works in this country, there is also a bit of a grey area here. Bear in mind that the selfsame Act also underlines the fact that the agent’s principle duty of care is to their client - the seller. Therefore, any agent who fails to satisfy himself fully as to the ability of a buyer to proceed with a purchase could be deemed to be seriously negligent.

In view of this, it is perfectly understandable that an agent may want you to at least meet with their own advisor, in order to establish your financial situation to their full satisfaction. Particularly in this market, no agent wants to waste both their and their client’s time with a buyer who turns out to be unable to proceed.

There’s one more point worth mentioning. I appreciate that you were well served by your previous financial advisor – and there’s a lot to be said for sticking with someone who has given good service in the past. Nevertheless, the fact remains that things are constantly changing in the mortgage market, so it could well be worth your while talking to more than one advisor before taking the plunge.

Meanwhile…I don’t know how long you’ve been house-hunting this time round, and whether the property in question really is everything you’ve been looking for, but just bear in mind that right now, serious buyers like you are very thin on the ground – so quite apart from the fact that this agent’s behaviour is actually illegal, you don’t need to put up with it at all!