“In buying a property from LYP estate agents, * in his ......”

Apr 19,2019
By: 'Ahmad Askari'
Apr 19,2019
12 people found
this helpful
In buying a property from LYP estate agents, * in his email of 2 July 2018 wrote: "Following our conversation, i am pleased to advise, your revised offer of £130,000.00 ... is currently being considered by our Group." and "As there are other conditional offers on the table, in order for yourself to secure it, we will require a commitment fee of £2,500.00. This will allow us to mark the property 'sold stc' once your offer is formally accepted. This will come off the selling price." We were of course, very uneasy about paying this large sum of money to BS and did our level best to get some clarification in writing on the terms of this fee from him and his sales team, but we failed.

By his sentence "This will come off the selling price", we understood and trusted that the money will go to our seller at some point. We therefore assumed that our seller must have been fully aware and consented to this arrangement and decided to pay it despite BS's vagueness and our own and our solicitor's reservations.

As was promised, LYP marked the property "sold stc" in their website. However, we were rather surprised to see that the final selling price was given as £127.5K and not the full £130K. Our solicitor in her email of 5 July 2018 to us wrote: "The sale memorandum received from the agents stated the agreed price of £127,500." We assumed therefore, that the £2.5K must have gone to our seller. To clarify this, our solicitor emailed BS on 10 July 2018 stating: "Our clients have informed us that they have paid £2500 in form of a commitment fee, which was to be passed onto the sellers of the property. Please confirm this has taken place?" In response BS wrote: "Dear xxxxxx, Which ever is easiest for you. It makes no difference to my client. Terms of commitment fee are clear and understood by buyer & seller." We were not given any "terms of commitment fee" at any stage of this process. Neither us nor our solicitor therefore, understood what this meant!

After almost five weeks, our mortgage was declined, and we reluctantly withdrew our offer. We asked BS to refund our money, but he refused to do so at first. After several weeks however, he in his email of 21 August 2018 wrote: "I am happy to provide 50% back as a genuine misunderstand on your part in accepting our terms and a gesture of goodwill on loveyourpostcode.com® part. If this is acceptable on your part and you understand that the 50% being retained by loveyourpostcode.com® does not come close to the administration cost in reintroducing the property back to the open market we will close the matter this week." At this point it became clear that the commitment fee paid to him in good faith and on the sole understanding that it will go to our seller, has indeed been kept by him. I of course, refused to accept his offer.

There is at least one other evidence that supports the view that sellers generally were not aware of the fact that the "buyer's fee" or "commitment fee" was "coming off the selling price".

Update 19/04/19: This matter was sent to the Trading Standards sometime ago. Received an update from the Trading Standards on 17/4/19, which says: "The National Estate Agency Team have approached us for formal permission to investigate the estate agent and this has been granted. ...... they will have to gather a significant amount of evidence as the investigation is ...... rather than restricted to your complaint."

LYP is now on most consumer protection agencies' radar, I have made sure of that. Rest assured that I will see this matter through, irrespective of the time it's going to take.
Comment on agent fees
I appears that apart from the agreed commission, sellers are effectively charged an additional commission without their consent.
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