Why doesn't an agent look after the buyer?

One of our favourite sayings at esaleuk.com is that the best time to sell your house is when someone wants to buy it – and our job is to find them. We’re been fortunate of late to have been able to do that pretty regularly and, sometimes pretty speedily. It helps to have a database of potential buyers waiting and, of course, it’s an advantage to know how the property business works and to have a network of good suppliers. But, as well as doing everything possible for the vendor, should a good estate agent also be helping the buyer?

It’s an interesting question as, sometimes, you’ll hear that agents can treat a potential buyer as a lower life-form or, in the worst cases, as someone to be gently led into parting with a substantial sum of money for something which, let’s say, isn’t everything it was advertised to be.

We’re not comfortable with either tactic to be honest. Of course, our job is to do the very best possible for our vendors but, in some cases, that means helping out the buyers too.

Take a recent case in point:

Back in March, we were delighted when one of our clients accepted an offer on their Yorkshire property and everything seemed to go pretty smoothly – right up until completion was due in July. Suddenly the buyer’s solicitors were insisting no further progress could be made on the sale until a management plan for the property had been obtained – and at a substantial additional cost to the vendor.

The vendor’s solicitor was equally adamant their client should not be bearing that cost and, out of nowhere, a tortuous legal debate was born. The finer details are probably only of real interest to property experts but suffice to say the debate between the two legal teams escalated until it became nothing much short of chest-thumping by email. Of course, both insisted they were acting in their clients’ best interests but, in the meantime, the sale was stalling and, at one point, was even at risk of falling through.

Heads needed banging together and we stepped in an attempt to broker more constructive dialogue between the two sides, appealing directly to the management of both legal firms. After several weeks, more bickering over an additional management pack and the costs of a transfer certificate of lease, more than 70 emails and almost 75 phone calls, we were finally successful…

Naturally, our vendor was relieved but we were also delighted to receive a testimonial from the buyer – someone who had not engaged us on their behalf or paid us for any service whatsoever but gave us credit for saving them from losing over £1,000 in up-front costs which would have been in jeopardy if the sale had fallen through.

“Our solicitors may have struggled with the process but Mark and Dave were fantastic at ensuring communication between all sides and there is no doubt at all that, without them, the sale would have collapsed. Even on the last day, they were there to help us negotiate early entry to the property as our removal men were waiting outside and needed to get in,” said Mr C, whose full review you can read on independent website Trustpilot.


Mr C added he had some concerns when he was first informed an online agent was acting for the vendor, largely because he’d been told by a traditional high street estate agent that they “would probably just take the money, stick a property on portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla and then sit back and do nothing”. Money for old rope, really …

We’d beg to differ – and we know at least two other people who would now agree …

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