Foxtons accused of immoral behaviour over flat sale

Client "gazundered" by senior employee of controversial estate agent

Richard Smith felt confident that the sale of his one bed flat would go smoothly, especially as his buyer was a senior figure at the estate agency, Foxtons Chiswick, who were handling the sale.

His confidence was shattered when two days before the sale was complete, he received a call from Foxtons saying that his buyer had sliced £2,500 off his offer. Foxtons added that if he didn't accept the revised offer the long buying chain would collapse and suggested that Mr Smith try to get some of the shortfall from those further up the chain.

Afraid that he would lose the sale and the chain would collapse, Mr Smith felt he had no choice but to accept the new offer.

He and other members of the buying chain have bitterly condemned Foxtons and the buyer, Foxtons regional sales manager Darren Simpson, for the ploy of offering less money for a property at the very last minute. Mr Smith said that everyone was ‘disgusted’ with Foxtons.

He said 'I was under a huge amount of pressure to sell, because of the others further up the chain. Everything was sorted and we were all ready to go.'

Another estate agent at Foxtons in Chiswick who was overseeing the sale called Mr Smith and suggested that those in the property chain above should group together to find the extra cash to save the sale.

Eventually Mr Smith contributed £1,500 towards the shortfall and the next buyer up the chain, Simon Wright, 35, also put in £500.

Mr Wright claimed that the situation put him under unnecessary emotional pressure adding 'What happened is not illegal but it is, I feel, immoral, especially when the buyer is a member of staff at the estate agency. They are meant to be looking after Mr Smith's interests.'

Mr Simpson, who has a large detached house in Surrey reportedly said: 'I was a private buyer and this had nothing to do with my job at Foxtons.

'Of course I am good at negotiating because that is what I do everyday. I am entitled by law to negotiate right up until contracts are signed. Whether I drop the asking price or increase it is my own business. At any point the seller could have gone somewhere else. I do not want to discuss my personal financial matters. There are 20,000 people who work in the estate agents business in Britain and it is up to us to buy property as we see fit.'

A spokesman for Foxtons said that it was a private matter between Mr Simpson and the other buyers. However, the spokesman added that Mr Simpson dropped his offered price after he learned that the property came with one parking space rather than two.

It would appear that Mr Simpson had been mislead by his own agency’s details!

March 21, 2003

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