Just Another Reason To Hate Estate Agents

I hate estate agents

Ok, perhaps “hate” is a bit strong (or is it, really?), but there is definitely something about the tale I’m about to regurgitate which won’t help the reputation of estate agents. Well, one estate agency firm in particular, Foxtons. Who else could it have been, seriously?

In Foxtons defence- I’m not the type of person to wipe an entire industry with the same tar brush, but I can’t help but feel that during this dire financial crisis, the majority of estate agents would stab their own nan for a buck (even with the poor exchange rate), and that’s why this story has no shock value whatsoever.

So, let me set the scene. A Mrs Bicknall had a rather expensive house that she wanted to market, which in hand came with a rather attractive commission tag to the agency that got the sale. Her initial plan was to prosper through the competence of Foxtons sales team. When they failed to sell, sell, sell with in Mrs Bicknell’s idealistic timescale, she decided to appoint Hamptons (another estate agent) sales team to join the rat chase. To make the situation legit, she had to change Foxtons agreement from sole agency to multiple agencies.

While Foxtons were sole agents, they had shown the property to a Mr and Mrs Low. Unfortunately for Mrs Bicknall, they hadn’t shown enough interest to make an offer.

I don’t know how or why this occurred, but the Low’s also viewed the same property again under Hamptons supervision. The Low’s decided to make an offer and exchange contracts with Hamptons, meaning they snatched the handsome commission from Foxtons.

Foxtons had heard of this sale, and insisted that they were entitled to the commission because they initially introduced the Low’s to the property. To emphasise their point, Foxtons pointed to a clause in their contract that stated that Mrs Bicknell would be held liable if she sold the house to “a purchaser introduced by them”

Foxtons being Foxtons stuck to their words whole heartedly, consequently taking poor Mrs Bicknell to court. Well, you didn’t really expect Foxtons to let a buck or two slide by, did you? In great disappointment, Foxtons won their case.

Understandably, Mrs Bicknell was not satisfied with the result, so she decided to appeal. To Mrs Bicknell’s joy, the decision was eventually overturned. The appeal judge based his decision on the definition of “purchaser”. A purchase is apparently a purchaser when he decides to purchase. When Foxtons introduced the Lows, they weren’t purchasers. They became purchasers afterwards, when Hamptons had also put up a sales pitch, and pushed through the sale.

That makes sense to me. What do you think? I mean, if I had taken a liking to a shirt in store A, but decided to buy it from store B because they made a better sales pitch- store B made fair the sale. Right? Right. This seems like a classic case of, “we’re tight for money, let’s sue people over dumb shit to compensate, just like the Americans”

Foxtons MiniRather interesting story. I don’t know why the Low’s didn’t bite bate when Foxtons had shown them the property, or why they insisted on seeing the same property through another agent, but I don’t really care. Admittedly, it does all sound rather fishy. But the point is, the Hamptons pushed through the sale and the Low’s agreed to buy through their service. Perhaps the agent handling the case at Foxtons put up a lousy sales pitch, or perhaps his general snake-oil swagger combined with the notorious Foxtons toy Mini was too overbearing, hence the betrayal. Hey, I can think of worse reasons to do business with another.

Moral of the story? An estate agency will sue their clients fucking ass if they think you snatched a few precious pennies away from them, and that’s why they’re probably one of the UK’s most hated professions (marginally trailing behind traffic wardens).

What are your thoughts?

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3 Comments- Join The Conversation...

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Eric Hundin 29th April, 2008 @ 08:16

I found your blog on MSN Search. Nice writing. I will check back to read more.

Eric Hundin

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 1st May, 2008 @ 08:44

Thanks. I just hope you don't scrape the content off my site like you appear to be doing with other sites on your personal website :)

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Linda 17th December, 2013 @ 13:54

I used this agency for my current flat. Although I was reluctant to work with them, as they didn’t really listen to my needs, I let their letting agent, Davis Martens; convince me to show me some properties. As expected, he showed me properties I wouldn’t like, but the last one seemed to be perfect, as it was newly refurbished, and Foxtons was the agency that sold the flat to my landlord. I trusted it, and let Foxtons rent the flat to me, and pressured me to come up with almost £5000 in 2 days.

As a foreigner from the Netherlands, where apartments, especially in the high end ranges, are built according to safety measures and high standards, I didn’t know I had to check this with Foxtons before signing the rental agreement.

When I moved in I didn’t have lights and heating for two weeks, there were leakages, furnitures hadn't arrived (took 3 weeks), the flat wasn't cleaned (took more than a month), smoke came out of the oven etc. When the specialist electrician came, he found out that the Electricity was wired wrongly, and that it had burned through. If it had gone further, it would have caused fire. Furthermore, until now (two months down the road), I’m Lucky if I get water to shower, and even more lucky if it’s hot water; when I told the landlord about this, he said that the water has difficulty getting up to the third floor, and that the pipes are old (obviously my jaws were on the floor the moment he mentioned this. To make things worse, he said London is an old city. I mean come on; in 2013, water can’t get into a three floor story building? Amsterdam is an old city too, but we don’t have the issues you have in London). Next to that, when I turn the dishwasher or washing machine on, the place fills up with smoke and the smell of burnt rubber, and other issues such as the fact that the windows can’t open because they have been painted shut and the cords to open them, are missing (totally forgotten by the specialist that built it).

When I told all of this to Foxtons, their only response was that they don’t manage the flat, and that I should deal with it with the landlord. And, this is the agency I paid almost £400 for the one minute they showed me this flat, their horrible service; the landlord had to pay them two months’ rent to find a tenant for him and draft up this agreement that I could have done myself. And, they sold this property to the landlord, which has unverified safety certificates as it turns out now. I wouldn’t be surprised if the gas blows up the building one day.

I’m still waiting for the landlord to fix everything before these two months are over. As the landlord is oblivious and never checked the flat before I moved in (he literally bought it two weeks before I moved in), I'm convinced that Foxtons was aware of the issues. Obviously I would never recommend FOXTONS to anyone.

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