An estate agent shows a young couple around a property viewing. Estate Agents' Legal Obligations to Buyers and Sellers explained by SAM Conveyancing
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Estate Agents' Legal Obligations to Buyers

Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager Caragh Bailey
(Last Updated: 20/12/2023)
5 min read

What are estate agents' legal obligations to buyers?

  • Accurately describe the property

  • Not withhold important information

  • Pass on all offers to the seller

    (Up until exchange)
  • Show no bias between buyers

Can the estate agent refuse to put my offer forward?

Under The Property Ombudsman Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agents – Section 9a , it states:

“By law, you must tell sellers as soon as is reasonably possible about all offers that you receive at any time until contracts have been exchanged unless the offer is an amount or type which the seller has specifically instructed you, in writing, not to pass on. You must confirm each offer in writing to the seller, and to the buyer who made it, within 2 working days.”

If the estate agent refuses to put your offer to the seller, then you should quote the above in an email. It is an uncomfortable conversation to have so early on in negotiations, however these are professional estate agents and shouldn’t impede your ability to make an offer to the seller. Plus, if you have followed the process when putting together your offer then this will be based on facts, therefore a reasonable offer for the property.

Can the estate agent influence me on how I should proceed with the purchase?

Under The Property Ombudsman Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agents – Section 12a, it states:

"After acceptance of the offer by the seller, and until exchange of contracts you have no direct influence on such matters as the conveyancing process or the mortgage lending process. Your obligations to the client are:
  • to monitor progress;
  • to assist where possible, as asked;
  • to report information deemed helpful to bringing the transaction to fruition;
  • where there is a chain, routinely check the immediate transactions and communicate information helpful to bringing your client’s transaction to fruition.
You must keep written or electronic records of such activity."

If your estate agent is trying to influence you by phone or email about how to progress with the transaction then you should flag this to the office manager at the estate agents, and if it is the manager then raise a complaint to the Area Manager of the branch. If you can’t stop the influence via this route, then you can make a complaint under The Property Ombudsman (TPOS) .

Can the estate agent force me to use their preferred solicitor?

Under The Property Ombudsman Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agents – Section 18a, it states:
"Aggressive Behaviour. Here are some illustrative examples of aggressive behaviour or practices. It is not an exhaustive list. In each case, the test is whether the average consumer’s freedom of choice or conduct is (or would be likely to be) impaired and, as a result, they take (or would be likely to take) a different transactional decision. When you gain new clients and instructions, when you market property, when you negotiate and make sales.

Pressuring a potential buyer to use associated services, for example to take out a mortgage through the in-house mortgage advisor or to use a particular firm of solicitors or licensed conveyancers".

And under Section 9d, it states:

By law you cannot make it a condition of passing on offers to the seller that the buyer must use services offered by you or another party. You must not discriminate, or threaten to discriminate, against a buyer because that person declines to accept that you will (directly or indirectly) provide related services to them.

It is essential that as a first-time buyer you have the right to choose who you want to work with as your legal advisor without any pressure from the estate agent.

Frequently Asked Questions
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Written by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Reviewed by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.

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