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Buyers beware hidden fees

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I often hear people complaining about the amount real estate agents charge, and what’s included for their fees. But I rarely hear buyers talking about the lesser known problem of some agents charging “double fees” and then only acting for one side – the vendor.

Did you know that some agents will charge both the purchasers and the sellers for the sale/acquisition of the property, which means charging buyers for a service they are not really benefiting from?

I think it’s fair to say that many people are unaware of this fee, until, of course, it’s too late.

Did you know that you can also enter into a binding agreement with the agent, undertaking to pay their fee simply by visiting the property and signing the “Hoja de Visita” or Viewing Form?

It’s this last point which is really disturbing, and something I want to elaborate further.

Only the other day I found a property for a client of ours at Nexitum, and I went to visit the flat with the agent. Agent X was not only late for the viewing, but didn’t have all the basic and necessary information that we required to provide a professional report to our client (the potential buyer).

At the end of the visit, the agent explained that they would get back to me with all the information I needed via email, and asked for all my contact details on the “Hoja de Visita” and to sign it. It’s right at this point the fun started. Reading the form, I noticed at the bottom a clause saying that I/the purchaser agree to pay Agent X the sum of 3% + IVA/VAT of the purchase price if our client reaches a conclusive purchase, and what’s more there was no time limit set to the clause!

Now I am sure anyone reading this would think “well who in their right mind would sign a form without reading it”, and I agree, but many people have fallen into this trap.

At Nexitum we see well over 150 properties a week, with most agents asking us to sign a “Hoja de Visita” simply confirming that we have been introduced to the property by that agent, but there are a few who seem to add this 3% clause in, and conveniently seem to forget to mention it. And it’s fair to say that, when you are going from visit to visit, running late for the next viewing, kids screaming and pouring down with rain, it’s all too easy to fall into this mistake and just sign the form without reading it properly, creating a potentially costly mistake.

In Catalonia, an attempt was made to clarify this issue by prohibiting charging commission to both parties for the same operation, but the Catalan law on the right to housing of 2007 includes an exception —“unless there is an express agreement to that effect”—, so it is a backdoor for the collection of these commissions from both sides.

So our advice to buyers is always be cautious and, if in doubt, hire a professional, such as Nexitum, to make sure that arguably one of the most expensive acquisitions you can make is done in a safe and cost effective manner. Whether you’re a private buyer or an investor, Nexitum will find you a property that’s a perfect fit for your needs and wishes. Our experience is key to ensuring you make the best purchase. Our stringent criteria will ensure that, you’ll be able to make an optimum purchase in a way that’s easy, secure and convenient. You can contact us by e-mail at jparker@nexitum.com, by telephone on (+34) 934 67 50 00, or by completing our contact form to book an appointment.

Please note that the information provided in this article is of general interest only and is not to be construed or intended as substitute for professional legal advice.

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