A right wing magazine once edited by Boris Johnson has called estate agents “spivs with tape measures” who conceal information from buyers.
In an article about leasehold properties the veteran Spectator contributor Ross Clark accuses agents of not wanting to tell buyers the remaining duration of leases on leasehold properties.
“So often when I see details of flats on Rightmove, there is no word whatsoever on any of these matters. It will just say ‘leasehold’. Even when I have rung up the estate agent he or she often doesn’t have a clue as to these details — or they don’t want to part with them” says Clark, who in the past has contributed on property matters to the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph.
He claims in The Spectator that in the 2000s the much-criticised Home Information Packs would have required agents to disclose leasehold lengths – but that part of the pack’s provisions was abandoned because of wider opposition to other elements of HIPs.
“Estate agents should be bound to provide all the crucial details. They should have to tell you the length of the lease, who owns the freehold, how much the ground rent is and whether it rises with inflation or by doubling, and who manages the common parts of the building. They should be able to email you the full lease on request” insists Clark.
He says agents are more interested in telling prospective buyers about the brand of dishwasher in homes, and he laces his article with heavy sarcasm about agents.
In addition to the “spivs with tape measures” jibe, Clark calls agents “Kevin Whitesocks” and “the sharp-suited middleman in the Vauxhall Astra.”
His only praise for the profession appears to be because of the technology used in recent times.
He concedes: “Many have indeed become very good at offering good floor plans, fly-through videos and the like. The ability to get a good idea of the layout and the state of a property before you commit to viewing it saves everyone’s time.”