Monday, 22 September 2008

The ultimate gazzunder.

As an estate agent times are very difficult at the moment what with a lack of sales, prices falling and a general lack of confidence in the property market. However you try to do the best for your client and keep smiling.

I always try to see the best in people and like to think that i am professional and honourable with my dealings with both vendors and purchasers. I pride myself in remaining calm and respectful even in the most stressful and trying of cicumstances. However today i nearly lost it. Let me explain.

We are selling a vacant bungalow for an aged client who has gone to New Zealand to be with her sister. Her property is her only asset and it needs to be sold to pay for her care and nursing fees. She gets no financial assistance and must provide for herself.

Several weeks ago we accepted a very low offer from a purchaser on the understanding that the sale would proceed very quickly. This they agreed to do. After a few annoying delays (i won't go into the details, but they really dragged their feet) we were informed by their solicitors that they were ready and exchange would take place at the end of the week. The day before exchange of contracts was due the buyers demanded a 15% reduction (citing the fall in property prices) or they would withdraw from the sale. This equated to a reduction in price of £55,500! An enormous sum.

Our clients were understandibly furious at the timing of the demand and really wanted to call their bluff, but because they needed to sell suggested a reduction of 10%. After a bit of negotiation we got the sellers and buyers to agree a 12.5% reduction as long as contracts were exchanged very quickly and confirmed to all parties accordingly.

This morning we get an email from the buyers saying that they will not now agree 12.5% but insistant on the original 15% reduction. It was take it or leave it or they would withdraw and proceed with an alternative property. After much soul searching the clients have agreed to this further reduction. We hope to exchange at the end of this week. Then the buyers had the cheek to ask if they could have access to do some re-decoration between exchange and completion. Of course we said no way.

I personally feel awful about the whole affair. Our poor client has been taken advantage of by a very unscrupulous buyer with no conscience or scruples. They are totally dishonourable and contemptable, but what they have done under the English system of house purchase is not illegal. So, unfortunately it is the system that ultimately is to blame. There should be something in place to stop this happening - but what.

One thing is for certain, these horrible people have undermined my faith in business morality and made me a harder and more sceptical person than i care to be. Bastards.

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