Agents warned to avoid ‘conditional selling’ following claims against Connells

Connells has been accused of taking part in ‘conditional selling’, when buyers are told their offers will only be forwarded to a vendor if they use one of the estate agency’s services.

Several independent mortgage brokers told FT Advisor that a single Connells branch, which has not yet been identified, was forcing applicants to use the estate agency’s in-house mortgage or insurance broker in order to make an offer.

For some brokers, conditional selling is happening regularly, and not just at Connells.

On a private, national mortgage broker Facebook group, 38 brokers said estate agents had tried to conditionally sell to their clients via a poll conducted in early February.

It is claimed that in some cases, an agent will remove the offer condition to speak to their broker if a client calls them out on it but in other cases, the client might lose out on the property.

Speaking to EYE, Paul Offley, compliance officer at The Guild of Property Professionals, said: “Part of an estate agent’s role is to find out as much information on any prospective buyers, such as details of any chain involved, timescales and how the purchase will be funded.

“This information then allows their client, the seller, to make an informed decision on the offer which they wish to accept; however, this should not be conditional on using an agents service nor a requirement before the offer is submitted.

“Agents have a duty to report all offers to their client for consideration unless they have instructions otherwise.

Nathan Emerson
Nathan Emerson

Nathan Emerson, Propertymark CEO, agrees that agents have a duty of care for their vendors at all times and part of that process is, “carrying out financial verification and anti-money laundering checks”.

He told EYE: “This process has had to become more robust in today’s market when we have seen the rise of sealed bids and multiple offers where an agent needs to be able to advise their vendor to the best of their ability.

“If an agent has an inhouse broker or advisor it makes sense that they carry out the checks as their expertise makes them better placed. Taking that into account, an agent absolutely cannot withhold or block any offer made and if a buyer can provide all the necessary details from a reputable and verifiable outside source then there should be no issue.”

Connells has been approached for comment.



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  1. Gangsta Agent

    I had it first hand albeit a few years ago, Connells in Luton telling a pals daughter she had to use their mortgage broker if she wanted to buy the property, it’s what the seller wanted is what she was told. BUT I’m sure they don’t do this anymore !!!

  2. Flatnose1927

    This is news?? It’ll never stop. There are two types of agent: Those who take pride in providing the type of service they would want for themselves; and those addicted to profitability above any form of customer service. The former are decent people, the latter are the reason our profession has such a bad rep.

  3. vype200871

    This still happens with every Connells branch i come in contact with. There are 2 in my town and both refuse to put offers forward unless they speak to their broker and 1 branch even says their seller requires the buyer to use their in house mortgage broker which is conditional selling at its finest.   I caught them out recently as my seller wanted to buy a property and they refused to put the offer forward even though the buyer was using a local and very well know mortgage broker and was happy for this broker to contact the branch to provide the clients mortgage details, which they declined.  So i suggested my client go knock on the sellers door which they did and what would you know the seller had not instructed Connells to do that and was very happy with their offer and mortgage situation so accepted their offer and then rang the office to tell them what they had agreed between them and how disgusted the were with their tactics and complained. Needless to say the branch manager came back with his tail between his legs and had to apologise to his own seller for trying to force a buyer to use their in house mortgage adviser and potentially ruining a perfectly good sale for their own client.   So if any of my clients see a property through Connells in my town i tell them this story and how to get around it.  Simples.

  4. mids19

    This is not new but I’m glad to see it’s back in the public eye.

    I’ve worked for a few agents including a couple of corporates, Connells were by far the worst for it but not the only one. The staff hate doing it, they just want to sell a house, but the targets are so high and you’re challenged so aggressively when you don’t get a sign up, that you just have to put your morals aside and do it and hope to get away with it. It’s so wrong and obviously completely illegal.


    Will anything get done about it? Well after this, an email will be sent company wide telling them to stop, it’s not company policy etc etc. And then 2 days later the area manager will visit each branch and tell them they have to start doing it. And so the cycle begins again.

    1. A W

      Unfortunately this is likely to be the sad truth.

  5. SKG

    It’s disappointing to read the CEO of Propertymark suggest that the process of verifying buyers and offers has had to get more robust due to the ‘rise of sealed bids and multiple offers where an agent needs to be able to advise their vendor to the best of their ability.’
    Whether there is one offer or ten offers a decent agent should always be verifying buyers, confirming their financial and chain position and advising their clients. That’s basic estate agency. And it should always be robust.
    And no it doesn’t require conditional selling or for buyers to use any affiliated provider.
    The ridiculous targets around FS in corporate agency and the training to ‘sell the benefits’ are something I’m glad to be rid of.  Mostly unaligned with advising our clients and supporting buyers and just a management target with a big stick and a minuscule carrot. 



  6. our_paul

    Isn’t this effectively the STRIKE ‘free’ model?

  7. whatdoiknow58

    Totally agree with all of the above comments has been going on for years and even highlighted on TV many times including Connells if my memory serves me correctly. Most corporates use a panel of lenders with a nice kick back so you are never going to stop the gravy train whatever the climate. Interesting to see also that The Propertymark CEO also believes that an agents in house adviser should be definitely considered ” as their expertise makes them better placed ” maybe a number of IFA’s may take a different view?

  8. AcornsRNuts

    Surely there is a big difference between verifying that buyers are able to proceed and forcing them to use in house mortgage advisers etc.  The former is a duty of care, the latter is not.


    I remember this issue a few years ago and I think it was on a local radio station. At the time the radio host invited David Plumtree onto the program to explain the issues of conditional selling but after some ducking and diving  it soon became yesterdays news as these things invariably do   it was real sphincter twitching time I recall I imagine there were some serious short term rollockings and then it was business as usual.   Why do you think they are acquired countrywide….. for their estate agency ? pS any chance Skipton could look into this for us all ?

  10. PaulMorris19

    Something introduced and driven by Simon Cross a current DMD. Many of meetings listening to him tell everyone how he introduced conditional FS selling.

    His words were always “if they won’t use us for mortgages then they can’t buy”

    Corporate Dinosaurs

  11. ColemanL98

    Me and my partner just brought our first house through Connells. When we first put our offer in we were told the seller would only accept if we used their in-house solicitors and broker. After reading this article and the other comments I’m starting to think we were lied to. As first time buyers you don’t know what’s best and can easily be misled. Connells in house solicitors caused us nothing but stress and made the whole process horrible.


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