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Is this proof of unethical practices?

I would like to raise a point in connection with estate agents. Having just recently obtained the agreement in principle for a client, the estate agent requested that they see this agreement. No problem. I am used to this and agree with the process of confirming that the client is able to obtain a mortgage.

The estate agent then told the client they wanted to see proof of deposit before they would accept the offer on the property. This is most unusual. Yes, I have been requested by some lenders that they want to see the proof of funds available. This has been dependent on the loan value and client circumstances. But it is wrong that the estate agent should ask for this. It has nothing to do with them and they should not be asking for this information.

I rang the estate agent, gave them the client’s name and property address details and questioned them as to why they should ask for this information.

There is a lot of regulation covering mortgage brokers and IFAs in connection with information gathering, treating customers fairly, record keeping, disclosure and complaint procedures to ensure that clients have the correct information and we can process their application to completion.

The reply was that it was a corporate client selling the property and they wanted to see the proof of deposit. When I questioned this and told them it was wrong and they should not be doing it, I was passed to a manager who again stated it was a request by their corporate client.

I told the estate agent that I was not happy with their procedures and would report them. But how and where to complain?

The FSA? Outside their remit. Try the Office of Fair Trading. Business complaint or consumer complaint? Tried them all. Alternative numbers given. I ended up with the local council. No idea what to do. Ombudsman? Endowment complaints, etc.

After three-quarters of an hour, trying to see where to go and register this complaint in connection with what the estate agent was doing, I have got nowhere.

I would like to see if any other broker has come across this scenario before. Do they agree with it? It is ethical? Is it legal? How can I get the complaint registered and can the practice be stopped?

Kevin Hulme

Kevin Hulme Associates,

Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

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