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Countrywide probes branch pressure to use own advisers


Countrywide is investigating reports that one of its estate agent branches is pressuring customers to use in-house mortgage advisers.

Mortgage broker White Financial Services reports two of its clients in the last fortnight were unduly encouraged by Countrywide subsidiary Palmer Snell to use their own mortgage adviser.

The Taunton branch of Palmer Snell told the customers they could not view or put in offers on properties without seeing the firm’s tied mortgage adviser, according to White Financial Services managing director Dan White.

One client was asked to supply identification and three months of payslips and bank statements to put in an offer.

Such documents would not normally be requested by estate agents pre-offer but could be used to arrange a mortgage.

White says: “It was lucky they were both quite strong headed and said no.”

One customer was told by Palmer Snell that the vendor had requested the information.

A Countrywide spokeswoman says it is looking into the situation but that it is not the firm’s policy to funnel customers to their own mortgage advisers.

The spokeswoman says: “Countrywide takes these matters seriously and as such are investigating the incidents as outlined to us in this branch.

“We can say with certainty that we do not impose conditions on any applicant wishing to view or make an offer on a property. We like to ensure that any offer put to vendors has been qualified but do not insist that any customer needs to meet with any of our consultants.

“Our job is to ensure that the process between buyer and seller is a smooth as possible. We pass all offers on to our vendors.”


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  • Corby Macdonald 16th March 2018 at 11:01 am

    This appears to be prevalent with all Estate Agents that have their own FS. Though I really do want to know what they are doing with all of this Data, they are accumulating especially in failed offers? GDPR and all that??

  • James Town 8th March 2018 at 3:17 pm

    We all know that it goes on with nearly every corporate agency. There is also the problem with newbuld developement sites when prospective buyers are told that they must use their in-house advisers.

  • David Mallett 8th March 2018 at 12:00 pm

    Yes – it seems pretty widespread and is getting worse. I thought there was a legal obligation for estate agents to put forward all offers to vendors, regardless . Clearly there needs to be an awareness campaign to alert first time buyers, that this practice is not allowed.

  • Chris Hulme 7th March 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Countrywide are not alone in this practice of refusing to forward offers until such demands are met. It is rife in the industry, and seemingly without any check mechanism.
    The policy of demanding a “Mortgage in Principle” is also outdated as such certificates are rarely worth the paper they are written on given criteria and rates are an ever changing sea and they are only as good as the information provided on the day.

  • John Emmett 7th March 2018 at 2:40 pm

    This practice has carried on for years and will do so for years to come.

    Always the pressure to see the in house adviser who has been there 8 weeks and will be gone in 2 weeks.

    ” You can have this 2 year fixed rate or this 2 year fixed rate product”

    The same pressure to use their recommended conveyancer. ” It will make the purchase easier as they know the area and the property”

  • ivona lord 7th March 2018 at 2:08 pm

    The phrase “investigating reports that one of its estate agent branches is pressuring customers” made me laugh out loud! Just the one then? Tut tut! Everyone in the industry knows exactly what many the corporate agents are like. One sniff of a first time buyer and it’s like a pack of hungry hounds circling a juicy steak. And as the pressure appears to come from above, who exactly is doing the investigating?

  • Darren Walker 7th March 2018 at 2:07 pm

    This shouldn’t be an issue to anyone if it is the estate agents practice to make sure that their potential buyers have been qualified at the outset to avoid offers being made or time wasted doing viewings with potential buyers who cannot actually afford the property they are looking at. As long as they are not forcing the customer to do their mortgage with the broker and they are using one who does not charge a fee or who works from a limited panel of lenders then this should be the way everyone works to avoid all the issues we see and hear about.

  • Tim Marcer 7th March 2018 at 1:38 pm

    From my experience, this practice is more widespread than just one branch. Some of my clients have had extreme pressure put on them to use the in house adviser, and have been in fear of losing the property they want if they do not use their financial services

  • Nicky Young 7th March 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Unfortunately this behaviour is not just limited to Countrywide and not just to Taunton. I have been a mortgage adviser for over 20 years and I have heard this and other stories from lots of the estate agents in the areas that I have covered over this period. It is a lot more common than this article would suggest.

  • Colin Chapman 7th March 2018 at 1:29 pm

    shut the front door…………………….no way, an estate agent applying the pressure to get the buyer to use their in house broker who charges an high broker fee!!!! Had a similar incident myself recently with a client that was made to go in with all her docs before they would accept the offer. Out of curiosity went back through my emails to see who the agent was………would you believe it………………none other than Bairstow Eves!!!!!!!!

    Whilst it may not be “policy” ……in this period of low transactional volumes the ancillary revenue streams are pursued ultra vigorously.

    and its all buried away behind the ethos…” we are doing the right thing for our vendor”