A few weeks ago, I happened to notice (as you do, when you’re an estate agent keeping an eye on how your competition is doing) that a flat had become available in the rental market, in our patch.
“That’s funny”, I thought, “that apartment looks very similar to one we’re currently selling. I know our buyer will want to rent the flat out, when he finally owns it, but it can’t be the same place because the sale has not yet exchanged contracts, let alone completed”.
Out of interest, I rang the agent.
“Oh, hello, I see you’re advertising a flat in ***** Court.”
“Yes, that’s right”, the letting agent told me. “But you can’t view it because the owner hasn’t given us any keys yet”.
“Would that be because the “owner” doesn’t actually “own” the flat yet?” I asked. And with refreshing honesty, got the response:
“Yes, that’s right”.
“So”, I asked, “is what you’re doing actually compliant and ethical? I mean, you are advertising a property for rent and the actual owner knows nothing about it. Your client does not own the property so is not in a position to instruct you to do anything at all with it. And you’ve just admitted that you are completely aware of the situation”.
“Oh, it’s okay because the selling agent said it was fine for us to do this”.
“Would it surprise you to hear that I am the selling agent and this is the first I’ve heard of it?”
“Oh, really? Then it must have been our client who said it was okay…”
Hm. That’s all right then…. except your client doesn’t own the property yet…
* * * * * * *
This week, something new has cropped up.
I was told at the weekend that a flat that we sold last year was back on the market with another agent.
I was, of course, a little disappointed that the new owner had decided to market the property with someone else (although it turns out the owner is not very well and their family has taken over, so perhaps they did not know). Interested to see if the flat had changed in any way, I decided to look at it on Rightmove.
Well, it hasn’t changed a bit. The photos and flooplans are much the same as they were when I first measured up the flat in October 2013!
Hang on a mo … they are the same. Exactly the same. They are my photos and my floorplan.
I have contacted the agent concerned, by phone and by email, and apparently somebody is going to call me back.
But, I’m guessing, not until they’ve had a chance to change their internet advert for that property, in case I decide to inform Rightmove (not to mention the NAEA and the Property Ombudsman) that they are infringing copyright laws…<