In a frantic housing market where demand is out of control, some estate agents have started requesting proof of funds from potential buyers before taking their interest seriously.
A new housing development in Ireland has created a scandal. The 44 homes on the estate have drawn the attention of 5,000 potential buyers. As a result, the agent in charge, Savills, has insisted that anyone who wants to view one of the homes must first prove that they are in the financial position to afford the purchase.
While it might seem sensible to ensure buyers are capable of following through with a purchase, Savills are demanding far more than simple proof that you’ve got a mortgage approval.
Instead, they’re demanding to see evidence of all savings that may be used in the purchase, including evidence of any gifts from family members that may be used for the purchase. And this is just to view a home.
According to word on the grapevine, Savills are not the only agents to be using this practice.
Today, however, the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) in Ireland has intervened, saying, “There is no justifiable reason as to why estate agents should be asking for excessive personal information from people wishing to view properties”, and that agents “should collect no more personal information than is necessary”.
The DPC’s new guidance also makes the point that asking for so much personal data is ridiculous for people that are simply wanting to view a property.
“The personal data required for the purpose of arranging a viewing will be significantly less than the personal data which may be necessary where an individual decides to progress to a more advanced stage of purchasing a property, such as placing an offer on a property, going sale agreed or concluding a purchase.”
If an agent requests to see your proof of funds before they allow you to view a property, you don’t have to blindly comply. You can offer to show proof of your mortgage approval in principle, if you have one, but there is absolutely no reason for them to see your bank balance and personal savings information at this stage.
If the agent still refuses, you have a choice to either comply and show them your data, or you can lodge a complaint about their practices. Find out exactly how to do that in our full guide, How Do I Complain About My Estate Agent?