Should Estate Agents be able to sell their

own homes without declaring an interest?


Speak to an Independent Surveyor for friendly advice

We are highly qualified independent surveyors (independent meaning we are not linked to any estate agents) and will offer you advice on your property problems and can carry out a building survey on your prospective purchase; whether it is residential or for business. We can prepare a schedule of condition and property report in relation to your lease. We carry out dilaps reports for landlords or tenants.

Please free phone us on 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat.

Free phone 0800 298 5424

The things Estate Agents get up to

Recently we were asked to carry out a survey on a property that the purchaser's main reason for asking us to carry out the survey was because the house that was being sold was being sold by an estate agent within a national estate agency practice and this had not been declared to them when they first viewed the property. It was only subsequently, and by accident, that the potential purchaser found out that the property was owned by an estate agent within the estate agency.


Estate Agents and Ethics

This does raise the question of ethics and estate agents. In our experience, having worked with our offices at the rear of estate agents that had nothing to do with us and having also been a partner within a company that had an estate agency, estate agents are about sales and not about ethics; although some may have ethics let us repeat estate agents are about selling properties. Estate agents are in the great position of selling properties without any responsibilities or liabilities.


Large National Estate Agents

Whilst we have not had a direct involvement with any of the large national estate agents recently we have, so to speak, watched on the sidelines for the past ten years or so and prior to that we were actively involved with some of the large estate agents. We would say, from this background, that if anything estate agents have become more about sales in recent years and there seems to be more and more pressures for estate agents to sell, sell and sell. When we say sell, sell and sell we mean that they are not only selling houses they are also selling mortgages, valuations (remember lots of estate agencies own their own Surveyors as well) financial advice (although not directly as estate agents are not legally allowed to) and most of them have also become letting agents. Making no bones about it, estate agents are very skilled at sales after all this is the core of their business.


Estate agents do not recommend surveys

We have literally sat in estate agents waiting for keys to carry out a survey whilst an estate agent has very skilfully talked someone out of having a survey on a property they are looking to buy. Obviously as a Surveyor we are bias towards everyone having a survey and will declare our interest but equally the estate agents should declare their interest with regard to wanting buyers not to have a survey carried out as it may lose them a sale because a problem is found which in turn loses them their commission.


Are estate agents on commission?

The answer is Yes.

Usually estate agents are on a very low basic wage often with a very high incentive/commission to sell properties. From our understanding they are judged purely on the quantity of sales not the quality of their sales.

For example after sales service is much lower down the list of priorities than a new sale where they push a sale through. Generally an estate agent has still got the buyer to jump over a number of hurdles before they have a sale.


You may be interested in our other surveying articles on:-

Estate Agents

Can you trust an Estate Agent?

The Estate Agent says that the building problems are already allowed for in the price

Should I have a Structural Survey?



Hurdles before a sale

The hurdles prior to a property sale are:-

1.  Approval for mortgage

2.  Approval for valuation

To some extent they have control of particularly if the estate agent is owned by a mortgage lender such as a bank, building society or insurance company; you would be surprised just how many do own estate agents and many own Surveyors too which they often refer to as panel surveyors as it sounds much better than their own surveyors.

Therefore it is only when an Independent Surveyor, such as ourselves, is involved in the situation of purchasing property that the potential purchaser gets an independent view.


You may be interested in our other surveying articles on:-

Estate Agent, there is no point in being honest

Do Estate Agents tell the truth or do they just want the house sale?


Why do estate agents own surveyors?

Most estate agents own or are involved with surveyors directly or indirectly, this came out during the 1970's housing boom when the majority of people were allowed a mortgage. This moved many people who were in rented properties into the market for their own housing; an Englishman's castle is his home is a well known phrase (equally applies to Welsh, Scottish and Irish).

What happened was that banks and building societies wanted more than just the mortgage, they wanted better control over the housing market and bought estate agents setting up national chains across the country.

In the Surveying world there are many stories about estate agents becoming rich over night as a bank or building society paid over the odds to buy up the estate agency.

Estate agencies still maintain many of the local trading names for example Countrywide estate agents which are also mortgage lenders (solicitors and Surveyors) trade under:-



Abbotts Countrywide Estate Agents

Buckell & Ballard Estate Agents

Alan de Maid Estate Agents

Chappell & Matthews Estate Agents

Austin &Wyatt Estate Agents

Bairstow Eves Estate Agents

Beresford Adams Estate Agents

Bridgfords Estate Agents

Carsons Estate Agents

Dixons Estate Agents

Entwistle Green Estate Agents

Faron Sutaria Estate Agents

Frank Innes Estate Agents

Freeman Forman Estate Agents

Fulfords Estate Agents

John D Wood & Co Estate Agents

Mann Countrywide Estate Agents



Miller Countrywide Estate Agents

Morris Dibben Estate Agents

Palmer Snell Estate Agents

Geering & Colyer Estate Agents

Hetheringtons Countrywide Estate Agents

Spencers Countrywide Estate Agents

Taylors Estate Agents

Wilson Peacock Estate Agents

King & Chasemore Estate Agents

R A Bennett & Partners Estate Agents

Rentons Countrywide Estate Agents

Andrew Reeves Estate Agents

Sotheby's Estate Agents

Ashton Burkinshaw Estate Agents

Countrywide Residential Lettings

Andrew Butler Chartered Surveyors


Hamptons International Estate Agents

Churchill Lettings

Forest Bureau Lettings Agent

PMS Property

Property Quarters Lettings Estate Agents

Blundells Estate Agents

Slater, Hogg & Howison Estate Agent

Gascoigne-Pees Estate Agents

Stratton Creber Estate Agents

Watson Bull & Porter Estate Agents

Countrywide Scotland Estate Agents

Lock & England Estate Agents

Accord Lets

Countrywide SLM




Vertical integration

We believe this is known as vertical integration which is when you are not only the supplier but also the retailer and is what the mergers and monopolies commission have looked at with regard to breweries and public houses. We would say that there is a similar situation with mortgage companies and estate agents.

The only problem the banks and building societies then had when selling a mortgage was if the Surveyors did not consider the property suitable equity for whatever reason. This resulted in many banks and building societies not only buying up estate agents but also buying up surveyors.

Although we do not know, we are sure that the same thing happened with regard to solicitors and we now have huge companies that have, in our opinion, massive cartels where they own not only the mortgage lender, estate agent, solicitor and the Surveyors.

We think there is a whole ethical issue here where an estate agent is recommending Surveyors that they own, not to mention them also recommending a solicitor that they own.

Whilst there is said to be Chinese walls with these situations we would question how a company that ultimately owns and pays for wages of the estate agents the solicitors and Surveyors we would suggest that it becomes very hard for them to make unbiased decisions.


Chinese wall defined by Wikipedia the free encyclopaedia

In business, a   Chinese wall   or   firewall   is an information barrier implemented within a firm to separate and isolate persons who make investment decisions from persons who are privy to undisclosed material information which may influence those decisions. This is a way of avoiding conflict of interest problems.

In general, all firms are required to develop, implement, and enforce reasonable policies and procedures to safeguard insider information and to ensure that no improper trading occurs. Although specific procedures are not mandated, adopted practices must be formalized in writing and be appropriate and sufficient. Procedures should address the following areas:   education   of   employees, containment of   inside information, restriction of transactions and trading   surveillance.


You may be interested in our other surveying articles on:-

Secret shopper on Estate Agents

Unhealthy alliance between Estate Agents and Surveyors



Independent Surveyors and Valuers

If you are buying a property not only should you have a Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Surveyor carry out the work but also we strongly recommend that they are a member of the Independent Surveyors and Valuers Association.

Here is the website address of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

Here is the website address of the Independent Surveyors and Valuers Association


Why we always recommend having an independent building survey?

Always have an independent building survey as this will pin point any property problems. Caveat emptor means buyer beware and is why you need to have a building survey to find out if there are any problems within the property; the estate agent certainly will not advise you of any.

Remember the independent building Surveyor that you employ will be the only person working for you with your interests at heart


Building Surveys versus Structural Surveys

Nearly everyone still calls us to ask for a full structural survey however in recent years the term building survey has been used. It more accurately describes what the client wants as you want a Surveyor to look at the whole of the property, not just the structure so this would then include for such things as woodworm, wet rot and dry rot and other structural issues and some non-structural issues, for example we will often comment on close by trees, drainage problems, old electrics, old gas installations; all things that are not necessarily structural but can cost you money.



Knowledge and Technical knowledge

We are not certain what other Building Surveyors do on their surveys but we always combine the technical knowledge we have with the day to day experiences that we have from looking at properties, to give the best insight to buyers as to possible problems. Often we have said that if we can see a slight problem on the surface it may well be hiding other problems beneath such as poor workmanship and materials; meaning the property suffers from problems.


Clear straight forward and clearly written and illustrated information on your property

As Independent Surveyors we provided detailed structural survey reports where we divide our reports into easy to read sections with detailed information about the property you have asked us to survey.

We divide the Executive Summary into ‘The Good', ‘The Bad' and ‘The Ugly', to help distinguish what in our mind are the main issues of the property in question.


Photographs and sketches

We believe that photographs taken at the time of our survey together with detailed sketches will help the potential buyer of a property fully understand any property problems and issues clearly.

For example


Examples of our photos and sketches




The circles and ovals on our photos and sketches

We also use circles and ovals on our photographs and sketches to emphasise problem areas so that you are not left wondering what the problem is, like the example to the right.
An example of our ovals

Action Required

Within our structural building surveys we give advice on an approximate cost in the Executive Summary and the main body of the report which identifies how much a problem will cost to solve. We often give alternative ways to solve a problem so you have a choice of different costs depending upon your financial situation.

For example

Rear right hand side chimneys have deteriorated

We had a limited view of the rear right hand chimneys (all directions given as you face the property); where we could see the chimneys from within the roof we could see they are deteriorating.

ACTION REQUIRED: Re-point within the roof space and also check at high level; this is easier said than done as it will require scaffolding to gain access to this area.

Re-Pointing Defined

Re-pointing is carried out where the existing mortar has failed and broken away to stop damp penetration and further deterioration. The mortar should be raked out to approximately 20mm and then replaced with a mortar of a similar type, therefore, stopping damp occurring.

ANTICIPATED COST: In the region of £1,000 to £3,000 dependent upon how access is gained; please obtain quotations.

Chimney in poor condition as viewed from inside the roof space


Examples of our Building Surveys and Structural Surveys

We have put hundreds of different of types of Building Surveys and Structural Surveys on our website because we want you to see how good our surveys are. We have more than likely put a survey of a property that is similar to the one that you are looking to buy. If you free phone us on 0800 298 5424 we would be more than happy to have a chat and discussion about the property you are wishing to buy and it is more than likely we would be able to find an example survey that is similar to your property or at the very least from the same era, as we do feel that over the years we have now surveyed nearly every era and most property types.



You will also find lots of testimonials and recommendations on our website from happy customers. We do have customers coming back over the years to use us again and again, as we do have families where every member of the family has used our services over the years. Equally, with commercial properties we have companies that have grown over the years and as they buy new properties we help them with surveys, schedules of condition and property reports.


You may be interested in our other surveying articles on:-

What do Chartered Surveyors do?

Valuation the same, Snap


Independent Surveyors

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a Surveyor with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, dilapidations or any other property matters please contact 0800 298 5424 for a Surveyor to give you a call back.


Commercial Property Surveyors

If you have a commercial property, be it leasehold or freehold, then you may wish to look at our Dilapidations Website at and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site .


Our articles

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

The contents of the web site are for general information only and are not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision.


Our rights

All rights are reserved the contents of the web site is not to be reproduced or transmitted in any form in whole or part without the express written permission of

building engineers

Home Buyers Reports Property Surveys - why we're the best. Engineers Reports
© Copyright

1stassociated-logo-for-footer IVSA-badge IVSA-putting-client-first call-us-for-footer

We have thousands of free property articles to help you - or call us freephone on 0800 298 5424

We have been working in the property industry for many years and have been
providing free property articles for over ten years. All for free and to help you with buying your next property.

House and Home Surveys and Useful Information

All you need to know about Building Surveys

Building Control, what do they do?

Designers and Architects will they save me money or will they cost me money

Enviroment, Your Building and Garden Gnomes

Estate Agents help sell houses and work for the vendors

Have a Structural Survey to protect you against structural problems

Home improvements, builder problems and ideas for you on how to solve them

How a Surveyor values a property, Chartered Surveyors and Regulated Valuers

How Chartered Engineers and Building Engineers can help you

Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

NHBC National House Building Council

Structural Surveys and How We Can Help You

Traditional and Non-Traditional Houses and Mortgage Problems

Valuations and how much is the building worth?

Whats the difference between a Chartered Building Surveyor, Chartered Surveyor and an Independent Surveyor

Useful property problem articles by Chartered Surveyors explaining building issues to avoid

External - Helpful information on building problems on the outside of the property

Chimney issues and problems

Cracking and Movement Problems and Surveying Solutions

Flat Roof Problems, how we can solve them

Foundations and Structures and Settlement and Subsidence and Underpinning

Pitched Roofs Problems and Solutions

Roof Problems

Wall Problems

Windows and Doors and Fascias and Soffits and Wet Rot and Dry Rot and other problems

Internal - House problems we have investigated inside

All you ever need to know about floors

Asbestos in your home, what you need to know

Ceiling Cracks and Structural Problems

Condensation, Damp and Black Mould Problems

Cracking and Movement Problems and Surveying Solutions

Windows and Doors and Fascias and Soffits and Wet Rot and Dry Rot and other problems

Woodworm is it a problem or not? Is it active or not?

Services - Building help and advice on costly services

Drainage, what's underground can affect what's above ground

Heating; I just can't get my house warm enough or alternatively I just can't get my house cool enough

You can't mess around with the electric, you need an expert


Commercial Property Services

Building Terms Explained and Directories

Commercial Property Surveys

Commercial Structural Surveys

Leisure Facilites

Offices Large and Small

Shops and Retail

Warehouse and Industrial Buildings

Dilapidations Help and Advice What is a Dilapidations Notice?

A Beginner's Guide to Dilaps

Damp Mould and Condensation

Dampness Rising Damp Mould Black Mould Condensation

Dilapidations and Negotiations

Dilapidations Claim by a Landlord

Energy Saving what can I do?

Finance what is a Financial Adviser (We are not Financial Advisors)

Fire Risk and Help

Health and Safety Risks

Insurance how do I get the correct property insurance?

Landlords Surveying Advice

Property Investment how can I invest in property?

Property TV Reviews by an Independent Surveyor

Schedules of Condition Leasing a Commercial Property

Scotts Schedule and Section 18 Valuation

Tenants Surveying Advice

Weather how does weather affect my property?



Snow and Ice

Strong Winds

Reviews from clients on Commercial Building Surveys

Churches and Charities, helpful reviews from our clients

Industrial Buildings and Warehouses and what our clients say about us

Offices Large and Small, reviews and feedback from our clients

Pubs, Restaurants, Hotels and other Leisure facilities we have surveyed over the years

Shops and Retail, helpful reviews from our clients


First Time Buyers

Buying a Leasehold or Shared Freehold Home

Buying and Selling Houses for the experienced house and home purchaser

First Time Buyers how do I go about buying my first house and home?

Improve your property knowledge with our presentations on house, homes and commercial property

Building Surveys

Building Surveying Useful Information


Dilapidations Presentations in Detail

Final Year Building Surveying Exams for University Students or those that would like to know more

How old is your Building? Which era was it built in?

Party Walls

Surveyors and Design Tools

Disputes and Party Walls

Boundary Disputes

Building and Property Disputes

Party Wall Book Reviews

Party Walls Your Rights and Responsibilities

1stAssociated Surveyors Review for Structural Surveys and Building Surveys

Building Surveys, reviews and feedback from satisfied customers

Buy to let property clients, what they say about our structural surveys

Buying at auction, review of the survey

Buying bungalows and retirement properties and how our surveyors can help

Both at work / busy couples, how we can help and some 1stAssociated client reviews

Families with a young person flying the nest, reviews and feedback

First Time Buyers, what they say about us

Listed buildings, structural surveys

Older buildings, a review of buying an older house

Families with children looking for a new home, feedback and reviews

Buying a Non-Traditional Property

Residential Surveys

House and Home Surveys

Commercial Building Surveys

Commercial Surveys

1st Associated Surveyors Are Also Available in the Following Areas:

East Anglia and East

South and South East

West Country and South West


North and North East



London Markets

London Parks



Areas of Britain

1stAssociated Independent Expert Property Surveyors

Specialists in Home Buyers Reports, Building Surveys and Structural Surveys and Schedules of Condition

All Surveyors are Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors qualified and RICS regulated

and are Members of the Independent Surveyors and Valuers Association

Putting the Client First

We do not accept service of documents by email or fax