Could This Be The Worst Case Of Agency Touting Yet?

Date Published 23 November 2012

A competitor agent touting for business gatecrashed some viewings as they were in progress – amazing the vendor, buyers and the other agent.

Colin Shairp, of Town and Country Southern, said: `Touting of properties I’m offering for sale by other estate agents is fairly regular, but this sequence of events beggars belief.

`Four days after we started to market a property, and a day after our For Sale board went up, a member of my sales team had arranged four consecutive viewings at the property.

`While the first viewing was being conducted, the doorbell rang and the potential buyers with the second appointment were shown into the living room by the vendor, having arrived early. At this time, the first couple were upstairs with my colleague.

`The doorbell rang again and, when the vendor answered, a representative from another agency introduced himself and asked the vendor to contact his manager straight away as he had a buyer waiting.

`He then handed the vendor a copy of my own firm’s particulars printed off from a property website with his manager’s card stapled to it!`

Shairp went on: `At this time, my colleague came downstairs and introduced herself but the other agent continued to talk past her to the vendors, who were simply amazed at the cheek of the approach by the cold-calling agent.

`So were the couple who were undertaking the viewing, as well as those waiting in the living room, who went on to make an offer to purchase.`

Shairp stressed that he has no objection in principle to competition from other agents.

He said: `It helps keep us all on our toes and doesn’t seem to be detrimental to the number of properties my estate agency sells.

`Of far more concern was the material handed to the vendor, which I now have. Nowhere did it mention that the vendor could be at risk of paying commission to two estate agents if they signed with the second agent while still contracted to me.

`This is very unfair to the vendors and creates a substantial financial risk to them. It also breaches the Property Ombudsman’s Sales Code of Practice, which makes it abundantly clear that agents touting a property already marketed by another agent must flag up the potential double jeopardy where fees are concerned.

`Where a competing agent genuinely has a buyer for a property that’s on my books, I’m always ready to talk with them and discuss the commission arrangements that might apply.

`But the right approach is to come to me, not bang on the door and harass the vendors – or, indeed, make a member of your team look grasping and unprofessional.`

Shairp is also director of Fine & Country Southern Hampshire at Drayton. He declined to give the name of the touting agent.