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to be totally pissed off at English house buying system.

(21 Posts)
lurkerspeaks Sat 10-Oct-15 11:28:02

I'm Scottish, in mitigation, trying to buy in England having bought and sold several times before North of the border. They system here seems bonkers to me. I'm not a lawyer but my understanding of the Scottish system for those who don't know is that an offer becomes legally binding after the exchange of missives (a series of letters) which typically takes around two weeks to sort out. In practice though because you offer solicitor to solicitor and the law society code of conducts states that it is improper to act for a party who has reneged on an offer so if you want to do this you have to get another solicitor to act for you. The net results is that it is very rare for a sale not to proceed once an offer is accepted. (I've never heard of it happening in real life).

In my case which has prompted my ire I had an offer on a property accepted on Wednesday via Agent 1. Property was marketed via two agents (Agent 1 & Agent 2).

The vendors agreed that they would cancel all future viewings and take the property off the market.

On Friday I get a phone call to inform me that actually Agent 2 had carried out viewings on Thursday and had an offer higher than mine.

The ultimate upshot is that they have now agreed to sell the property to that person after attempting to incite a bidding war between us.

The estate agent code of practice says that
"Continuation of Marketing
9d When an offer has been accepted subject to contract (in Scotland, subject to conclusion of missives) you must consult and take the seller’s instructions as to whether the property should be withdrawn from the market, or continue to be marketed. In the latter case, you must so advise the prospective buyer in writing. The prospective buyer must also be informed in writing should the seller later decide to put the property back on the market. You remain under the legal obligation to pass on offers, as defined in 9a above."

Therefore I believe that agent 2 should have informed me that they were continuing to market the property.

I was prepared to believe that the vendors hadn't passed on the information that they had accepted my offer.

However the line that the estate agency are taking (I know - I'm an idiot, I shouldn't have phoned them as it has just made me more cross) was that I wasn't their "client"/ prospective purchaser so they were under no obligation to me and that they did know about my accepted offer but because it was with another agent their behaviour was right and proper.


I will however take great delight in offering a whole lot less if that sale falls through!!

Toughasoldboots Sat 10-Oct-15 11:30:05

The Scottish system is so much better and more transparent. We have been gazumped and gazundered on house sales in England.
I don't trust any estate agent I am afraid and house selling and money brings out the worst in people.

CityDweller Sat 10-Oct-15 11:35:09

You're not being U at all in that the system here sucks.

fredfredgeorgejnrsnr Sat 10-Oct-15 11:47:12

But you only think it's crap because you've lost out? The purchaser got the house they wanted at a price they were willing to pay, the vendor got a better price than you would've offered. Why is "being first" an attractive proposition?

Toughasoldboots Sat 10-Oct-15 11:50:50

Because you have renegaged on an agreement.

shebird Sat 10-Oct-15 11:53:33

The problem is the agents are acting for the vendor not the buyer. They are obliged to put forward any offers. I agree though it is a bonkers system and causes so much stress.

lurkerspeaks Sat 10-Oct-15 11:57:06

I'm pissed off because the vendors agreed to accept my offer and to stop marketing the property. I may also incurred expenses as they were keen for a quick sale so my solicitor moved really quickly to request the searches - I'm still waiting to hear if they have managed to cancel them in time.

This verbal agreement was not adhered to and in my opinion the estate agents code of practice was breached - I should have been informed that the property was still being marketed.

I agree the vendors have done well as have agent 2 - they got the commission for the sale and agent 1 got none.

However in the wider world the property system is reliant on people making and sticking to agreements and if everyone reneged on their word none would ever manage to move house. I'm sure if you look around your social circle there will be several people who have had an experience like mine as a buyer or been gazundered as a vendor. That we have a system that allows this to happen is a design flaw.

Lots of countries manage to buy and sell houses (Scotland, Australia) in a much more organised fashion without wasting time, money and emotion in this manner.

Toughasoldboots Sat 10-Oct-15 11:59:07

If I have agreed that the property is taken off the market, then there shouldn't be any more offers.
I wouldn't want to buy from them anyway op, they didn't stick to their word and would have probably messed you around.

lurkerspeaks Sat 10-Oct-15 12:07:22

shebird I agree the agents are obliged to put forward any offers but if you look at the section from the agents code of practice they are also obligated to inform purchasers if marketing is continuing.

The didn't inform me of this (thus breaching the code)

The stated aim of the code of practice is to be fair to sellers and purchasers however because it was a two agent set up Agent 2 are arguing they had no responsibility to me.

In addition the vendors agreed by e.mail to cancel any further viewings. This didn't happen. Yet I am possibly going to be financially penalised because I did stick to my side of the bargain to help them get a quick sale.

Legally what happened is acceptable. Under the professional code of conduct for estate agents there may have been an omission to inform me that viewing and marketing were still happening depending on whether or not agent 2 is responsible to a purchaser proposed by a second agent (and I think the fact that this is in doubt indicates that two agent set ups are wrong). With respect to the vendors I believe that accepting an offer and then reneging on it is wrong.

They had a chance to push me to increase my offer prior to accepting it and didn't. As an aside I could actually have matched the price they achieved but refused to engage in the bidding war on Friday as I felt that I would have only been rewarding their poor behaviour and to be honest given that they were prepared to do this once there was no guarantee that they wouldn't do so again.

SquirrelledAway Sat 10-Oct-15 12:09:10

So why didn't the vendors instruct Agent 2 to take the house off the market?

And, also having bought and sold both north and south of the border, I'm not so starry eyed about how great the Scottish system is either - the "offers over" nonsense is stressful (especially if you've been ill advised and ended up paying way over), and buyers can still back out at the last minute or hold vendors to ransom for a price drop (as happened to my neighbours).

jevoudrais Sat 10-Oct-15 12:16:09

Our house buying system is horrible, YDNBU.

I live in hope that the next time we buy, things might have changed for the better. There are undoubtedly some good people out there that don't mess others around, but it doesn't seem like many. I have heard naughty things about EAs creating bids and lying too, saying the vendor said X when the vendor never did. As if house buying wasn't stressful anyway...

lurkerspeaks Sat 10-Oct-15 12:17:02

I will never know why the vendors didn't tell agent 2 to take the house off the market (or maybe they did and agent 2 ignored it?)

But agent 2 have told me that they knew my offer had been accepted and therefore were, I believe, in breach of the estate agents code of practice about informing buyers that marketing was continuing.

I don't think anyone has covered themselves in glory in this situation.

SquirrelledAwaythat is the first time I have ever anecdotally heard about gazundering in the Scottish system - i'm very surprised to hear about it - as the solicitors are fairly keen to protect their professional reputations and acting for someone trying to negotiate the price down post missives isn't good. I agree though offers over can be very tricky - the recent times I've bought/ sold were when FP was more prevalent due to the market downturn so maybe I have rose tinted spectacles.

lostInTheWash Sat 10-Oct-15 12:17:25

Yes there is something seriously wrong with the English/Welsh system of buying and selling.

You have to spend out money before you have any guarantee that the property is yours - solicitors fees and survey costs. If that happens a few times it can substantially affect ability to buy.

We had similar with our first house - they said it was off the market but it was still appearing in the local paper for sale sign with no sold bit was still outside the house few weeks after - with us asking wtf.

In our case it had been on for nearly two years and anyone interested had looked and decided to much work for the money - more sensible than us. I think they relied on us being first time buyers and trying to be reasonable.

Seller was an arse all round messing us about - especially as they went into rented so no chain. I think we only realised full extend of arseness when buying other houses.

Knockmesideways Sat 10-Oct-15 12:18:58

DH is a Scot, now living in England and his view is a mix of both systems would be better (surely achievable??)

He says, and it has been a time since he bought/sold in Scotland, that the problem Scottish system is that houses are usually marketed as Offers Over. Which mean you have to second guess the best price. Offers are put in writing and after a time - couple of weeks - all the offers are given to the vendors who decide who to sell to. That may not be the highest price - if you have a first time buyer who can move to your timetable that could be worth sacrificing a few thousand pounds. But that means you, as a buyer, don't know where you are and he lost many houses because he didn't 'bid' high enough.

However, down in England, we have gazumping. You know what the top price should be but sometimes people offer more (if they are mad). I've notice more houses being marketed as the 'Offers Over' garbage down here now. Not knowing if you should offer �5K or �20K over the asking price is completely ridiculous. If it's a �500K house then you offer the price or under. Very straight forward. I agree though that once an offer is made that's it. Off the market if it's made and accepted in writing and compensation if you accept a mega better offer. I have never played another buyer against another - though I've had the buyer get to exchange and demand a �5K drop on the agreed price before. I told them to stick it - my estate agent and their solicitor had a very busy afternoon resurrecting that one. They paid the agreed price.

The only thing I can do is point out a vendor we had to deal with 8 years ago. We'd found a perfect house, offered full asking price and were in a rental property. The estate agent introduced another buyer to the vendor. These people were selling their house but were then cash buyers. The house, surprise surprise, was marketed with the same estate agent who persuaded the vendor that, although we had a 50% deposit, the 'cash when their house was sold' vendor would be a better bet. Both offered the same price.

We then found the house we now live in. Paid less for it. We got a call about two weeks before we exchanged. The other buyers on the first house had pulled out 3 DAYS before exchange as they had found another house (with the same estate agent!!!) Our ex-vendors wanted to accept our offer. We told them where they could put that idea.

They finally sold the property �50K less than we had offered, last year. Their house to buy had fallen through and the market had gone into downturn so it came off the market, then back on at the reduced price early last year. My thoughts were 'what goes around, comes around'.

Good luck. Our missing out on that house turned out to be for the best. Our current house is closer to schools and town and we paid less for it.

DinosaursRoar Sat 10-Oct-15 12:32:21

I don't like the "offers over" aspect of scottish system, and as there can't be a bidding war, you've got to do a lot more guess work, and less likely to get a bargain, if say, you see a house with "offers over £200k" and you'd be prepared to pay upto £250k, do you go in at £250k, or £210k and hope noone else goes higher, or closer to your limit and then wonder if you could have got it for less... With offers over, do you know roughly how much it'll go for, does it take a lot of research to know what to offer?

That said, we got fucked about when we bought this house with the estate agent showing someone else round who put in a higher offer, which then they couldn't get a mortgage for, so the vendor came back to us and our lower offer but with our mortgage in place.

dangerrabbit Sat 10-Oct-15 12:41:28


When we tried to buy a property we ended up in the same situation as you, with the sellers selling through estate agent 2, however, we didn't find out about this until the day we came to sign the contract and were told another buyer had signed the contracts the previous week(!) they hadn't even bothered to tell us when the contracts were signed.

My friend had a problem buying a house in Scotland however, it was a house which had been repossessed and the bank selling it dragged their feet with the paperwork for over 9 months, in the end the sale fell through

SquirrelledAway Sat 10-Oct-15 12:57:00

Under the Scottish system you used to lay out a fair amount of cash before you submitted your bid - surveys, solicitors fees etc. that may have changed now that the vendors provide a basic survey. You can get an idea of how much to offer from the valuation survey, and your solicitor should be able to advise as well.

Our neighbours were stiffed because their buyer knew they were moving overseas and demanded a price reduction because "their solicitor had just found new information" (which was a barefaced lie) which might impact on the value of the house. Neighbours were too far down the line with the move to start all over again.

I also know friends who were persuaded to offer £200k over the offers over price (think it was about the £600k mark) because there were allegedly a lot of notes of interest in on the property. They were never sure how true that was, as theirs was the only offer on the closing date.

Draylon Sat 10-Oct-15 13:04:19

Yes, I don't know why we put up with it, but we do, and that's that.

I have, up until recently, only been involved in house buying and selling in Queensland, Australia.

A far better and fairer system, depending on signed contracts, precise time scales and penalties for default.

PennyPants Sat 10-Oct-15 14:45:53

YANBU the system here is archaic and unfair. We were pissed about for weeks on end. People lost money, loads of stress. Needs changing imo.

PennyPants Sat 10-Oct-15 14:47:06

YANBU the system here is archaic and unfair. We were pissed about for weeks on end. People lost money, loads of stress. Needs changing imo.

laffymeal Sat 10-Oct-15 16:04:34

The Scottish System is losing credibility now that Missives are taking ages to be exchanged. Before that happens you're just as vulnerable as the English system.

Friend of mine had 3 buyers pull out because of a link in the chain breaking in her recent house sale. The final (4th) buyer eventually exchanged missives after almost 8 weeks. Just as well as on the entry date, their money didn't go into my friend's mortgage account because of the HSBC computer failure. The buyers' solicitor gave her a cheque instead but she was understandably reluctant to hand over the keys until the money was in the bank.

Upshot of that was the delivery van parked outside the house for 8 hours then had to drive away, buyers had to stay with friends over the weekend until it was all sorted out.

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