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Case Study: Agent discloses material information after being disinstructed

25th April 2018

In an interesting case to come before The Property Ombudsman, a complaint was made against a disinstructed agent who disclosed information to a new buyer relating to a previous valuation.

In the case, a vendor had disinstructed Agent A following the fall through of a sale before remarketing 4 months later with Agent B. A survey undertaken by a previous buyer revealed an issue with subsidence which had significantly downgraded the property value from the vendor’s desired £650,000 to £550,000.

The issue surrounds a conversation between a new buyer and Agent A in which details of the survey and valuation are revealed to the new buyer. In the course of viewing other properties marketed by Agent A the buyer suggested that his offer of £635,000 was less than a valuation of the property. Agent A knew this to be inaccurate and corrected the buyer.

Advised of the disclosure the vendor complained Agent A should not have disclosed such information having been disinstructed.

In fact, the failure of the first transaction to proceed to because of the issue with the valuation constitutes material information, something the vendor should have revealed to Agent B at the point it was remarketed… this did not happen.

Additionally The Property Ombudsman, referring to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs), cited the following unfair practice defined by CPRs

Any act, omission, course of conduct, representation or commercial communication (including advertising and marketing) by a trader, which is directly connected with the promotion, sale or supply of a product to or from consumers, whether occurring before, during or after a commercial transaction (if any) in relation to a product.

In this case then Agent A had an obligation under CPRs as the previous fall through was as a result of the valuation. The vendor claimed the disclosure had jeopardised the sale, a claim refuted as the buyer would likely have had their own survey carried out which would have revealed the same issues. Data Protection would only become an issue if personal information was revealed.

The case highlights the importance of asking, documenting and evidencing the questions agents ask of vendors about the property. It is important to note that CPRs apply to vendors and landlords as much as they apply to agents and your activity protects them just as much as you.

 

Make sure you are asking the right questions of your clients, and documenting their response. Compliance Packs from Landmark are a simple pay-as-you-go compliance tool to help agents fulfil their obligations under CPRs and AML.

Compliance in a Box includes an electronic property information questionnaire alongside client verification checks and retains a time and date stamped audit trail of all compliance activity.

For more information please complete the form below, or contact Samantha Peacock (sam.peacock@landmark.co.uk) on 01524 220013

Register your interest today

 

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