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Do Estate Agents Have To Tell You About Other Offers?

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Moving home is said to be the most stressful thing a person can do but trying to buy a property is also pretty nerve-racking. Will your offer be accepted, and will other buyers come forward with offers of their own? The second point is a particular topic of debate, as there isn’t much transparency around the offer process when buying a home. With that in mind, this guide includes whether estate agents have to tell you about other offers, and more.

Can you find out other offers on a house?

Estate agents are legally required to tell potential buyers of other offers on the property but not the offer amount. So, if you’re trying to buy a home and someone else makes an offer, the estate agent must tell you about any other offers.

Beyond that, estate agents are legally required not to show any bias against any buyers. They have a duty to treat all buyers the same and must not discriminate. Or threaten to discriminate against a prospective buyer.

For instance, an agent can’t refuse to pass your offer to the seller simply because you didn’t want to use their in-house mortgage broker.

A good, qualified estate agent is worth their weight in gold. If you’re buying or selling a home and scratching your head about who to use, then we can help you find a qualified estate agent in your area.

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What happens when there are multiple offers on the property?

It’s not uncommon for a property to receive multiple offers, especially if it’s in demand. Some sellers might hope to start competitive bidding to extract the maximum value from their home. Sellers benefit if multiple buyers all make an offer on their property.

When this happens, the estate agent needs to inform every buyer about other offers. At this stage, you can decide whether to increase your initial offer or walk away and look elsewhere for another property.

What does a guide price mean, and how does it affect your offer?

In May 2022, Trading Standards and the Competition and Markets Authority stated a position that ‘Price on application’ is likely to be misleading.

Purchase prices must now be listed as a numerical amount although price ranges are acceptable where they are a true and accurate reflection of the property valuation. Full details should be included on the listing, where any other fees apply such as a reservation fee or charge for fixtures and fittings.

A property price provides a general indication of the minimum amount sellers are willing to accept for their home. So, if the price is £250,000, the seller hopes to get at least this amount but ideally more.

The majority of the time, sellers, are more inclined to wait and see how many offers they receive before deciding which one to accept. In this scenario, the estate agent keeps you informed of current offers and the seller’s decision.

Can the seller disclose offer amounts?

Sellers can permit estate agents to disclose other offers to buyers. However, this isn’t common and can create issues if there’s no way for potential buyers to verify the offer amount.

For instance, a buyer might think the agent is fabricating the amount to get them to make a higher offer. For that reason, it’s rare for agents to disclose the offer amount to prospective buyers.

Can I offer on a property ‘sold subject to contract’?

Trading Standards state that if a seller is still open to accepting offers on their property, even though they have accepted one. Then ‘sold subject to contract’ shouldn’t be on the listing. It should just remain as still for sale with the price listed. A seller must put this in writing to their estate agent to confirm they are still open to offers.

When a seller isn’t open to any more offers and has confirmed this in writing to the agent, a property should no longer be listed for sale.

A seller can still accept other offers right up until the exchange of contracts because a property isn’t ‘off the market’ until the exchange of contracts. This is known as gazumping and is when a seller swaps buyers for a higher offer.

What other information do estate agents need to provide buyers?

Estate agents also need to provide other important information, such as council tax band or rate, tenure information on properties for sale (freehold or leasehold) and details of any reservation fees to be included. This should be included with the property listing.

Price on application (POA) and “offers invited” can no longer be used in property listings. Following a ruling by a Trading Standards body. Property portals have stopped accepting listings that don’t have a set price.

If a property has a leasehold, agents must also provide potential buyers with information, such as the service charge and ground rent amount, length of years remaining on the lease and any known special conditions.

Estate agents must:

  • Accurately describe the property
  • Not withhold important information
  • Pass on offers to the seller
  • Not show bias for or against buyers

The majority of estate agents abide by the rules and aim to provide the best possible service. However, if you believe an agent isn’t complying, you can make a complaint.

Making the right offer

Answering the question ‘do estate agents have to tell you about other offers?’ – Yes. While it’s unlikely the agent will tell you the offer amount from other prospective buyers, they do have to tell you about other offers. As a result, you can use the information to decide whether to improve your offer or withdraw your interest.

A good estate agent will help both the seller and buyer at every step, through to successful completion.

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Last Updated: November 22nd, 2023