Three of the UK’s biggest estate agents are reviewing their mortgage sales processes after a Money Marketing probe exposed examples of misleading information being given to prospective borrowers.
Earlier this month, Money Marketing mystery shopped Connells, Countrywide, YourMove and Spicerhaart, asking them about being referred to a broker and how much the fee would be.
Connells charges £399 broker fee but when asked if there was a fee, a consultant replied “No”.
YourMove charges £399 while Countrywide charges £249 for residential and £499 for buy-to-let. Both agents’ staff confused the broker fee with the bank arrangement fee.
Spicerhaart’s consultant said all brokers charge fees, which is not the case.
In response, the estate agents concerned have contacted Money Marketing saying they are reviewing sales processes as a result.
Spicerhaart financial services division managing director Antony Lark says: “We do charge fees and we disclose that to our clients from the outset. With regards to the statement that all brokers charge fees, we take this matter very seriously and will investigate internally and deal with it as appropriate.”
YourMove financial services director Simon Cox is investigating staff training after requesting further details on the specific case.
He says: “I am concerned because the statements given were not correct. We tell customers the initial consultation is free but if they take a mortgage with us a fee will be charged. We disclose the fee upfront in our first broker meeting.”
Connells says it is looking into the remarks and the member of staff who made them.
A Connells spokesman says: ”Connells would like to apologise that the information provided was incorrect. Our consultants charge a broker fee of £399 at the time of application.”
Countrywide was unavailable for comment.
Trinity Financial product and communications manager Aaron Strutt says: “Estate agents should have basic information on fees to hand as those are the questions buyers ask before seeing advisers.”