Savills slammed for asking buyers for ‘proof of funds’ before viewings

When it comes to selling a property, estate agents often face the frustration of having to deal with time wasters – you know, the people who have no intention of buying, are unable to buy, or unable to commit to something and see it through.

Well Savills in Ireland has boldly decided to try and avoid this issue by asking prospective home buyers to provide proof that they have funding before they are allowed to view new homes at a scheme it is marketing at Somerton in Lucan, Dublin.

Prospective buyers must show “a full proof of funds” before they can see any of the 44 houses for sale. That means in order to secure an appointment for viewing, applicants are required to fill out a questionnaire and provide evidence of their mortgage approval, Help to Buy Grant, personal saving deposits or any cash gifts from family.

The agent requires that this documentation is provided as a ”primary source of information”, and not just a statement from the hopeful viewers that they have the financial means.

Savills argues that its approach will reduce the numbers viewing the Somerton scheme physically in accordance with Covid-secure guidelines.

The Somerton

There were some 5,000 expressions of interest for the 44 three- and four-bed houses on sale as part of the latest phase.

Savills director of communications Andrew Smyth told The Irish Times: “Due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions we cannot facilitate general open viewings. This is to safeguard the health and safety of all purchasers. As a result of very high demand – several thousand applicants in this instance, the Phase 2 Launch of Somerton can be by private-sales appointment only.

“Therefore, to facilitate a fair and efficient sales purchasing process, we require proof of funds to the value of the property in advance of the private purchaser viewing. Prices were set out prior to the request for proof of finance.”

Homebuyers have reacted with outrage to the move by Savills telling would-be buyers they must show “proof of funds” before they can view a property, while Ireland’s housing minister is not impressed.

Housing minister Darragh O’Brien said he would be contacting industry bodies about the practice by Savills.

“Requesting this level of info from a prospective buyer to view a home is simply wrong,” he said.

“I’ll be writing to the Property Services Regulatory Authority on this and requests for excessive info prior to informing enquirers of house price.

“Also due to meet IPAV Ireland this week and will discuss.”


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  1. Mike Bidwell

    I don’t see the problem here. Estate agent requires evidence that you are actually a buyer before selling you something. Personally I would have been a little more bold and said it as it is rather than blame it on COVID. Fellow agents  take note as there are a fair few in my neck of the woods that fail to obtain such proof even after a sale has been agreed!

  2. iainwhite87

    100% support Then agent on this Covid or no Covid why should estate agents and owners be subjected to inconvenience showing around buyers who are not able to purchase the property .

    I accept the way you ask and explain the position needs a decent   Approach but am I missing something.?

  3. ComplianceGuy

    I don’t see an issue with this given the level of interest and the number of properties.

    The simple solution? Have your vendor confirm, in writing, that financial evaluation MUST take place pre-viewing. That way, it’s not you setting the rule it’s your vendor. It doesn’t fall under discrimination because, allegedly, all these interested parties can afford the properties, so you’re not alienating any specific group of people. Therefore in the absence of discrimination: “I’m following my vendor’s instructions” is legitimate.

    1. wiseone

      It won’t matter if the vendor puts it in writing. Breaking the Law by discrimination applies equally to agent and Vendor.


      1. localagent735

        how is it discrimination? if someone cant afford to buy a property or show evidence they can- why would an agent let them view it?

        1. wiseone

          Because they may have the ability but not willing to disclose it to reduce the bargaining position. If you have 500k and the property is 490K then you will know they can increase up to 490k if they have offered 480K

          1. scruffy

            The issue here is how legitimately you can reduce extraordinary numbers wanting to view your client’s property that might prove to be time wasters.

            I suggest you “waste” their time by challenging their motivation from the outset. Submit a lengthy pro-forma pre-viewing questionnaire (similar to the Covid questionnaires that we’ve been sending out) with the health warning that any self-certification statements regarding their financial ability to proceed will be scrutinised prior to any offer acceptance.

            Within this they should also confirm their status and applicants can be prioritised accordingly; I see this as discrimination favouring those in the strongest position and the agent can then control the numbers invited to view.

            1. Property Searches Direct

              what…an agent have some control over how they run their business and spend their time and money? How very dare they @scruffy LOL You either have nothing to do with the industry or work in a very quiet backwater.

              An agent has every right to discriminate as they see fit to ‘the benefit of their client’. The one that pays their bills needs to be catered for. Buyers, need to jump through some hoops, and will happily do so if they are serious.

              There is no time to waste on people who have done nothing to check their affordability, have no idea whether they can get a mortgage and have done nothing to save a deposit. An ideal buyer is one with an AIP, proof of funds and affordability and has a conveyancer ready to proceed.

            2. wiseone

              Tell me that in 6 months when the bottom drops out of the market.
              HMO owners are already pulling out before Risha slaps a tax on them.

      2. Truthspeaks

        There is no law broken here, they haven’t discriminated against anyone, they have simply stopped possible times wasters taking up their valuable time.

        Mote agents should do this!

      3. jan - byers

        No it is not

  4. Mrlondon52

    Fully support this.

    I can see this becoming standard practice.

  5. Property Searches Direct

    Totally agree with the agent on this one. Why not eliminate as many time wasters as possible? To ask a client for a proof of funds report is the least an agent should be allowed to do, particularly when they are so easy to order now through open banking solutions.

    Every conveyancer will get ‘proof of funds’ and ‘source of funds’ reports done, so why shouldn’t an agent. Ideally if the agents did it, it would be one less thing for the conveyancer to get tasked with doing. If anyone wants to know some options on these, get in touch. No cost to you, client sources direct and you get the report.

  6. Will2

    I don’t understand why policians think they know more about running a business than the owners or professionals. It is just so arrogant. It is only reasonable the agent screens applicants to eliminate the “tyre kickers”.  If only politician concentrated their efforts on things that matter to us all.

  7. BillyTheFish

    So effectively Gov are saying that estate agents must show everyone irrespective of man hours available. So that means in this market just suck it up and work till 22:00 every night at no extra cost to anyone other than the business.

    It’s similar to trying to ban letting agents from turning down UC tenants when they are generally following the client’s instructions for ‘professionals only’.

  8. JustAWorker

    Like others, struggling to see the drama and why a politician felt the need to step in and make such a controversial comment (unless he needed the PR, in which case, good politics!). I will also make a comment….”Politicians, please state what law you think it has broken or go and make another law to control businesses”

    If the agent wants to reduce the size of their market, then leave them to it.

    I would like to know if I can book an hours slot with this politician to ‘chew the fat’, nothing specific, and then how many others would need to do the same before he decided to restrict his diary?

  9. MarkRowe

    There’s no doubt in my mind that politicians are now so out of touch that they have no idea who or how to represent the best interests of anyone now. Idiots.

    Savills, excellent move! I think you’ll find 99% if not 100% of the industry is behind you with this.


  10. Agent75

    Very sensible action by Savills.

    Alternative headline could read “Politician nobody’s heard of, tries to raise profile by picking totally unnecessary fight with agent over sound business practice”.

  11. scruffy

    Broad support as evidenced here.

    Needless to say a business opportunity will be identified by those seeking to derive income by selling “a proof of funds certificate”.

    Enter (stage left) yet another referral fee opportunity from those with financial services link and yet another unwelcome target to be met by sales staff seeking to convert would-be viewers into kosher potential buyers.

  12. Essjaydee51

    The days of “tyre kickers” have all but gone and if you are treating people as such then it is you who are going out there with the wrong attitude.

    Spare a thought for the cash or very large deposit buyer looking to keep their money safe by spreading it amongst several banks due to the 85k safety net, I am looking atm and if you asked me for proof I would have to give at least 14 copies of accounts as my proof or a letter from my solicitor who hasn’t yet been instructed and may make additional charges, for a viewing, Please! Next you’ll be moaning at the extra paper work you’ll have to do and viewings at 10.00!!!!pm don’t make me laugh that’s just bad time and day management.

    1. Agent75

      There are plenty of tyre kickers out there and the one good thing to come from COVID, as far as our industry is concerned, is most agents only showing properties to buyers in proceedable positions. However, when you’re faced with thousands of buyers for 44 properties, what would you suggest the agent do? When was the last time you wandered into a top end car dealership and asked to take a Ferrari out for a spin without having to show you can actually afford one?! It’s common practice in many industries where expensive goods are concerned – handbags, jewellery etc.

      As far as your fortunate position is concerned, you WILL be asked for proof of funds if you offer on a property (unless the agent you buy through really is one of the bucket-shop brigade, which seems unlikely given your budget) so I’d suggest you take scans of your 14 post office books now, put them all in a single PDF in readiness to send, and get your solicitor instructed. Agents are under an obligation under the AML regs to confirm that they know where a buyers funds have come from, as is the solicitor you have yet to instruct. It’s never as straightforward as it seems and people are quick to throw stones at agents, when all we are doing is (ooh, the irony, given who complained) following Gov’t instructions.

      And good luck with your search!

    2. paulgbar666

      Also note those that have chosen to remove their cash funds from institutions.


      The £85000 limit means nothing when Govt attempts to introduce a Wealth Tax or a bank bail in.


      Far safer to keep resources away from prying eyes.

      So when Govt seeks to determine wealth it can’t assess cash unless the owner is stupid enough to tell them.


      Anyone who doesn’t understand the ramifications of the Cyprus Bank bail in is an idiot.


      That is why DIP certs WON’T work.


      Of course I suppose a prospective buyer could take a suitcase of cash to an EA to validate the cash!!


      In one normal suitcase you can get about £300000 of £20.


      With £50 about a million.


      How do I know!!?

      Because I’m not so stupid to leave my funds where they can be detected by anyone!!



  13. A W

    Its not a problem to ask for proof of funds, however its not good practice or indeed good publicity. Trying to save yourself time at the expense of your (potential) clients is not good customer service and a great way to upset people.

    I understanding why they’re doing it, but then again I don’t agree with it personally.

    1. Property Searches Direct

      If I was a vendor of a property likely to attract a massive amount of interest, I’d only want to prep my property for people who could afford it and were serious. With New Home developments let’s not forget that some people see it as a day out, and in this market, there are not enough hours in a day to pander to everyones desires to go window shopping.

      If anyone got upset about having to prove they could afford one of the plots they are surely not a serious buyer.

      Personally, I would be attracted to an agent that took such a stance.

  14. The Auctioneer

    Brilliant free advertising exercise by Savills –

    1. look how people have reacted and publicised the development far and wide for free in the process – love it! . . . and

    2. why would a buyer take exception to avoiding a situation where they’d like to buy when they’ve actually inspected the property, but find themselves underfunded to be able to do so?  . . . and

    3. Covid compliance must still be observed (in case it has to be spelled out for those who have taken issue here and quite possibly the same who seem unable to grasp the fact these measures are in place to preserve not only the welfare of applicants and agents but also all those who they come into contact with), so how else can 5,000 expressions of interest in 44 units be whittled down to Covid/practically manageable numbers?

  15. tim main

    At a time when sellers are being asked to be more prepared and share Up Front Information, surely buyers must expect to face more pre qualification.  One point missed in the comments so far, the seller must have the choice as to who can go round their property.

  16. wiseone

    Now , I hail from a background largely in Financial Services but i did run and tried to buy as Operations Director a chunk of the old Cornerstone business and to that end I thought it might be useful to read up on the Estate agents act. Having been retired for 5 years I maybe out of touch but the Estate agents act1979 expressly states that “you must make all reasonable efforts to attain the purchasing capacity of any potential buyers” Also look at new orders and regulations. There was a court case ,surrey area if memory serves me well were Genaeal Accident property services were taken to court because they did not follow the act and lost and had to pay the prospective buyers survey ;leagle etc. Has the act been superseded…..has anyone ever read it. Got to go now Retirement is calling me

  17. Truthspeaks

    Well done to savills

  18. conoco9

    I agree with Savills. We ask for proof of funds up front just as our competitors do. Its good practice to protect our time and our clients. Do you think that BMW would let you test drive a new 8 series without proof of ability to buy it? No chance, same goes for us.

  19. biffabear

    Savills have form.

    More than once I have tried to book a viewing through them and they really look down on everyone. Customer satisfaction is not high on their agenda.

    Recently I tried to book a viewing through one of their Kent offices. 1 day after a property was listed and they declined to allow me to view – without asking any financial questions at all.  They just said they were busy.  Next it went under offer.

  20. paulgbar666

    If I was a vendor I would wish for as many who wished to view my property.


    I’m selling up and certainly wouldn’t use Savills.




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