Over the years we have had very few complaints against our company but where we have it has almost always been from a buyer who "missed out" on the property they wanted.
There seems to be a suspicion amongst unsuccessful bidders that the reason they missed out on the property was due to some "underhanded" action on behalf of the Estate Agent.
"They must have been keeping it for one of their own"
"They mustn't have wanted us to get it"
"They've sold it to someone for less than we were willing to offer"
In reality, and certainly in our experience, this is not the case.
When a property is placed on the market for sale the agent is acting on the instructions of their vendor client. For some clients the priority will be to achieve the highest sale price possible. For others it will be a desire for a "quick sale". For others it will be about the right buyer at the right time to allow them to move forward with their own plans/move - so perhaps a first time buyer with nothing to sell and no particular urgency for completion might be prefered over another bidder who has a property to sell and is tied into a chain where any one buyer in the chain could become a "problem" in terms of the completion timescales.
A bidder with a property to sell faces several potential problems:
Some people will make offers before their own home is even on the market. Some will make offers once their property is on the market but before they have agreed it for sale. The problem here is that a vendor has no idea how long it will take before the buyers property is on the market or how long it will take for it to be agreed for sale. They also won't know if a chain develops behind this with other buyers or sellers ultimately connected to their sale, any one of which could become a weak link that ultimately breaks the chain and collapses the sale.
It is not unusual for Estate Agents to take offers from buyers in this situation and record them on their systems, as legally we have a duty to report all offers to our clients, but it is extremely unusual for any commitment to be made or for a sale to be agreed under these circumstances. A point of confusion is sometimes that a buyer who makes an offer which is "Subject to sale" may be told that their offer is "acceptable" (e.g. if the asking price is £125,000 and the offer is £125,000) but the sale is not "AGREED" at this point and the property remains on the market open to any other interest and offers. A subsequent offer for less from another potetial buyer may still be considered from someone who is not in a chain and can proceed to completion without any other conditions to be met. In this situation it is the ability of the buyer to "Proceed" which is important rather than the highest bid.
Naturally the original offerer may not be happy at missing out on the property which they had hoped to buy - possibly even the property which they put their own home on the market in order to purchase. This is a simple fact of the "Open market". In the heat of the moment do not assume that the agent has acted unprofessionally - often abusive comments and accusations are thrown around that are extremely hurtful to the agency staff and without any basis in fact.
Agents are in the business of selling property so it is naive to think that they will ignore or refuse the bids of genuine buyers. To some degree it is part of our job to separate the genuine buyers and those genuinely in a poistion to move forward from those who are either not genuine or simply not in a position to purchase "at that time". Our vendor clients pay us a fee to represent their best interests and it is simply not in a vendors interest to agree their property to someone in a lengthy chain if a chain free buyer is interested. Neither is it wise to accept an offer from someone who can not show evidence that they have had their finances approved at a level sufficient to match the offer made.
A final point to make is with regards to the condition of the property. As agents we do not conduct property condition or building surveys - that comes later and is usually arranged by the mortgage lender or buyer directly - but we will have a good idea of which properties will require additional expenditure before or after purchase. A first time buyer with a 5% deposit is not a good match for a 100 year old property which is full of damp, needs a complete rewire and has woodworm unless they have factored this into their budget and have resources availble to attend to these issues. To agree a property to a buyer under these circumstances is a near guarantee that the sale will collapse when the survey report comes back and the lender imposes restrictions on the amount that they will lend leaving the first time buyer short in their financial ability to complete the purchase. The agent isn't preventing the buyer from buying the property, the buyer simply may not be in a position to buy that particular property due to its specific issues and the agent is using their knowledge and experience to best represent their vendor clients interests.
Most agents are highly professional individuals and companies, perhaps with a very few exceptions. We, like most agents, are members of independent consumer redress schemes who will investigate complaints, award compensation if appropriate, and take action against rogue agents, including banning them from trading, if they are proved to be at fault.
There is a correct way for unhappy customers to have their voices heard but it is not on social media with unsubstantiated "trolling" which seeks to extract revenge on an agent, without the full facts. A quick "post" or "tweet" may be well recieved by your social network and may make you feel that you have "taken positive action against that rogue agent" but it may simply be vindictive or even leave you open to legal action for defamation or lible. Engage with the agent and seek to understand the facts of the matter. Don't blind your eyes to reason - ask yourself, "If I was selling this property what would I want my agent to do in this scenario". Don't go and confront the vendor either as, under threat or pressure, they may not tell you the truth about their private discussions with the agent. You may go away feeling that you have proved your case against the agent but most agents will either have recorded the phone calls with their client or have detailed records of the discussions which remain private, under data protection legislation, but will be presented to the independent ombudsman if a formal complaint is made and which may well show a very different story.