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Personal Interest

Among other aspects, the Estate Agents Act deals with cases where an estate agency may have a ‘personal interest’ in a transaction. This can arise in two ways – by the agency having close connections with the seller or connections with a prospective buyer.

The former is easier to identify, handle and, in most cases, is not contentious since serious conflicts of interest rarely arise. The estate agent will be trying to sell the property quickly and efficiently regardless of whether he is representing an ordinary client or a relative of one of the partners.

Personal interest, which may arise if one prospective buyer buys the property but not another, cannot be so easily defined. Clearly, an estate agent should tell a client immediately if he has any form of personal interest as defined in the Act.

However we are not just talking about the estate agent buying a property for his own occupation as personal interest is very widely defined to cover all staff, all associated companies and all relatives of all staff in all the companies and all business associates. That covers a large number of people – many thousand if we are talking about the major multi-branch firms.

The disclosure must cover both the nature and the extent of the interest. It must be made immediately the interest arises and confirmed in writing.

Where the interest arises from a prospective buyer then that should be the first point explained to the seller-client when any offer is discussed.

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