Do Estate Agents tell the truth or

Do they just want the house sale?



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Estate Agents work on commission

Most estate agents are on a basic wage and then they earn lots of commission and we mean with some estate agents a lot of commission. They earn the commission for selling houses. The commission is paid when the house is sold so they are very focused on selling houses. To do this they often have to be very nice to the buyers which can be mistaken for friendship sometimes in our experience when the focus of the estate agent is on selling the property.



Surveyors meeting the client at the property

We were recently carrying out a survey and we met our client at the property (this is the person who is buying the property) as we like to do this during the course of our survey to show them any problems and issues but also any good points about the property. We voiced our concerns about the factory building that was literally at the end of the garden. The purchaser said ‘Its ok, the estate agent has said it's an antiques warehouse' and having then spent some time with the purchaser this didn't seem to ring true. It became very obvious in talking to her that this seemed too good to be true as she had a love of antiques.



An Estate Agent won't tell you there will be neighbours from hell

So as part of the survey we normally knock on the neighbour's door so we went round to knock on the door and found quite a big operation with two units to the front that we could see then a further three or four to the rear that we couldn't get too due to the iron gates on the complex. We decided to knock on the door of the house next to this and spoke to a gentleman who advised that he only rented the property, however it was a very big mistake to rent the property and he wouldn't be there other than that he had paid a year's rent in advance as he said there was 24 hour working going on in some of the units. These units were owned by butchers who prepared meat in them late at night and into the early hours of the morning for markets. As mentioned we always try to speak to the neighbours. We couldn't speak to the next door neighbours so we put a card through the door and they rang later in the evening to confirm how terrible the noise was and said what disturbed them more was the area being fully lit during the night.


Sellers hide things sometimes under the advice of estate agents

We have recently come back from a survey where the seller had kindly put some boards and a table in the way of a vertical crack. The crack ran from the ground to the first floor level within the property. Internally coincidentally they had also managed to store items against the crack. We commented on this to the seller who said the estate agent had recommended that they cover the crack up.

Another example that we have seen very recently was structural movement in a property that had been repointed and then had a trellis work put over it as well as having new plastered walls internally. However if you are on the look out for this you can usually find further evidence as in this case we did with cracking actually found in the roof space.


Estate Agents v Surveyors

We very much feel that the estate agents are working for the buyers in a cut throat market and will do anything to sell the property. They are in an amazing business where they don't actually have any responsibility for the item they sell. Usually the only person you have on your side is the surveyor. They are independent and working for you. The reason we say this is because often estate agents will recommend surveyors, the banks or the building societies or the money lenders will recommend their own surveyors. This is a practise that we think should be outlawed. You should remember that the estate agent hides behind the law ‘Caveat Emptor' which means ‘Buyer Beware' in Latin. Further to this if you look at the small print at the bottom of most of the house sales details you will see that is says in the course of transaction anything they say to sell the property they can't be sued for.


Surveyors get to know the sort of problems that different buildings have

Luckily or should we say because we are aware of the sort of problems that occur in this type of property we were looking out for cracks in this area (the cracks are brought about by drains leaking) but you do need to be aware that people selling properties hide problems or in estate agents speak they present the property in the best way they can. Sometimes the seller can pretend they don't know anything at all where there are problems.


Other articles that we feel may be of interest to you on our website are:

Building Surveys or Structural Surveys

Victorian and Edwardian properties and their common problems

Traditional and Non-Traditional Properties - What are they?

Unhealthy alliance between estate agents and surveyors

Property Eras and Common Problems


Sellers of properties lie because they want to sell the property

A recent example of this was where we spoke to the owner about various issues that we had identified and they said that their wife normally dealt with all the property things and she wasn't there. Then as we always do we asked them to fill out our property questionnaire and they put that they didn't know most of the answers. The problem related to drainage going underneath the property which we feel they must have known about as the garage extension they had had rather than being attached to the house was moved away from the house by a metre or so. Unfortunately when buying and selling a house it is very much like walking on thin ice.


The Surveyors question and answer session, sellers need to take this seriously

If a seller / vendor isn't completely truthful then as a Surveyor you then slow down and look at the property very closely. This then identified other areas and problems which ultimately meant that the purchaser couldn't negotiate the price at the level they wanted to have to resolve the various problems and some of them were quite basic problems like the garage being too small to get a car in and open the doors properly unless you had a very small car. Interestingly our client the purchaser bumped into the seller a week or so later who commented that he thought the surveyor would be trouble. We would comment that if we had not highlighted these things to the purchaser then the client would have had many unhappy years in the property sorting out problems that the seller knew about.


Estate Agents are often very,very good sales people

Estate agency often draws the very best sales people as the prize is so great. If they manage to sell a house then their sales bonus can be considerable. Although estate agency gets a bad press the vast majority of it does a good job, however some of it does concentrate more on the sales than getting their clients the right property. Often the problem is that the estate agents simply don't have the right property on their books so they have to amend what they have and sell what they have in a way that the client take's it on. Equally we have spoken to estate agents who would argue that lots of clients don't know exactly what they want and they become very skilled in interpreting this requirement.



When times are good you get pressurised selling from the Estate Agent

When the housing market is high sales are very pressurised as the estate agents know there is another purchaser around the corner so be careful.




When times are bad you get pressurised selling from the Estate Agent

Equally when the market is very low selling can be equally pressurised as the estate agent needs to hit the target of sales to earn their bonus. Remember they are often paid very basic minimum wages.



Why we always recommend having an independent building survey?

We believe that buying a house and home is such an important purchase that you need to have the best possible advice that you can receive. No shortcuts should be taken which is why we recommend you have a building survey to find out if there are any problems within the property; the estate agent certainly will not advise you of any but we most definitely will!

Remember the independent building Surveyor that you employ will be the only person working for you with your interests at heart.


Our photos and sketches and circles and arrows

We are very proud of our reports and the feedback that we get from our clients is that they like our reports because we make them so clear and simple to understand because we write in plain English and don't over use technical terms, and we define terms when we do use them but most of all we use sketches and photos to help them understand the problems with the property. This in turn means that they can negotiate with the estate agent from a point of strength (remember the estate agents job is to sell the property).

If we need to highlight a certain area on a photo or sketch we will do this by using circles and ovals like the example below right

An example of one of our photos
An example of one of our sketches



Our articles

We hope this article has been of interest to you but as we are only human, if you feel any of the information we have given is incorrect please do not hesitate to contact us.

The contents of the web site are for general information only and are not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.


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Regarding freehold or leasehold Commercial property you may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site .



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