Agents ‘still marketing properties as available after offers accepted’

The Property Ombudsman has rejected claims that the new Code is unclear as to whether properties that are SSTC or Under Offer should be labelled as such when marketing continues.

Eye asked for clarification following suggestions that some agents are either finding the Code ambiguous or deliberately misinterpreting it, and are advertising properties as still available after an offer has been accepted.

The Code does not specifically say that agents must make it clear on marketing if a property is Under Offer or SSTC.

In Section 7(i), the new Code says: “You must by law comply with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.”

It goes on to say that “all material information must be disclosed and there must be no material omissions which may impact on the average consumer’s transactional decision”.

Under the heading Continuation of Marketing, the Code says (9d) that when an offer has been accepted subject to contract, agents must “take the seller’s instructions as to whether the property should be withdrawn from the market, or continue to be marketed”.

Hamer said: “I think 9(d) is clear enough – continued marketing is authorised or not by the seller.

“If it is the case that marketing does continue, then the agent has to comply with 7(i) and disclose the status of Under Offer if that is relevant.

“Strictly speaking the property is indeed still available because the seller, albeit accepting an offer, has advised the agent that it is still available and in any case any property is ‘still available’ up until the point of exchange.”

However, Chris Wood, of PDQ in Cornwall, said: “I believe that rule 9(d) of the Code is open to interpretation and needs to be more specific.

“Many small, and some large well-known agents are interpreting the wording as a green light that they can carry on marketing a property as still available when, in fact, it is sold subject to contract.

“As a result, they are potentially leaving themselves and their customers open to prosecution.

“The Code fails to spell out that under CPRs, agents should clearly mark a property as SSTC or Under Offer if that is the case.”

As a follow-on to the above, Eye wonders whether our local experience of properties still being marketed as Under Offer or SSTC after they have actually been sold rings true elsewhere.

On Rightmove, there are two properties currently on the market in our thinly populated but spread-out village in Hampshire.

However, update it to include properties SSTC, and there are 13.

The same exercise on Zoopla shows one property for sale but 11 when you include STTC or Under Offer properties.

Three of the Rightmove SSTC properties and two of the Zoopla SSTC homes, to our knowledge, have exchanged and completed.

Indeed, we met the new owner of one of them nearly two months ago, on June 29, out walking her dog, while at another property there is a bulging skip in the front garden during the purchaser’s refurbishment after the sellers moved out earlier this month. As for the third, according to the Rightmove alert on Land Registry sold prices we received  yesterday evening, it was sold on – wait for it – June 5.

Yet these three properties, and probably more in our very small area,  are still being semi-marketed on the big two portals (Eye will, of course, be sending them the links).

It must be all but impossible for the portals to police.

But agents behaving badly – it’s not right, is it?

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5 Comments

  1. badger

    Some time ago I asked M Shipside at a RM agents conference to introduce a sold tag – he agreed – but we wait.

    RM promote the fact that potential buyers will use the portal for research in selecting a selling agent; so some agents keep them alive as long as possible on the portal to generate business. 18 months ago I was instructed to sell a property in a neighbouring district that the owner had bought 6+ months previously only to see that it was still sstc on RM courtesy of the selling agent!

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  2. MF

    As badger says, a 'sold' label should be available. But it is a problem and I've come across several agents who routinely keep (rental) properties on the market as 'available' after offers have been accepted. When asked, they say things like "sorry, it's gone, but we have others…". "So why is it still on the market?". "Oh, it's only just gone". "That's what you said last week,". "Errrrr…".

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  3. phoenix

    Like anything, the system is open to abuse and we leave our stock as showing as under offer for a maximum of 3 months. I see no issue with it as we are misleading no one if we have actually done the job? Why would we not want to shout about hat fact
    Policing will require far reaching changes. Every corporate instruction I have ever received insists the property remains on the market until exchange. Surely that's a worse scenario from the purchaser/consumers point of view.

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    1. Woodentop

      I and you would be breaking the code and legislation if you followed their direction.

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  4. badger

    I observe agents who have a letting and sales operation listing the same property as both when it is more probably just for rent. Let agreed but still for sale some time after – smells like inflating stats and creating sales leads.

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