Estate agents play the least popular role in the estate market. Their persistence to sell, as they work for property sellers in the first place, can be quite annoying. They need to line up as much potential buyers and get the best price for a property - regardless of its location or condition - in order for seller’s to meet their fees.

Given this kind of situation, estate agents at present resort to methods where buyers are often asked to throw in some cash, given that they have already outbid the others. Typically, estate agents organise an “open house” or a series of viewings in short intervals, and ask potential buyers to put their offers in writing.

Others, on the other hand and the more scrupulous ones if we may say, would go further along by pushing an “informal sale” to buyers who made sealed bids where the buyer is asked to pay a finder’s fee to the agent that ranges from 2-2.5% of the property’s selling price. And then they would still collect their agent’s fee from the seller. This is called double-charging and in the UK Housing Market, this is a rather unkind act in order for estate agents to rake in as much money as they want.

The process of double-charging has reached the Ombudsman’s office and it has been said that such practice may have already begun in London, but without an action to stop it, it could very well be done by others across the UK. More so, this could actually drive buyers and even sellers a little mad as they end up realising they have been ripped off.

While this could ward potential buyers off, dealing with estate agents can more often than not be very useful. The trick is to know how to get them on your site by involving them throughout your search for the ideal home. Talking to them about how you need sufficient information and prodding them for advice opens an opportunity for them to become more honest and not devise schemes to rip you off your money while also thinking of collecting a fat fee from the seller.

The best tip we could give you at this point - to avoid falling victim to dodgy estate agents - is to try to find as much information about them before your start engaging yourself in their organised viewings. You might want to check how reliable they are in terms of offering the best properties and how ethical they are in doing so. Try to also find at least three estate agents to compare and choose from to be sure.

To even help you further, you may search for legitimate estate agents through the Property Ombudsman website and get as much information about them that could ensure you’re dealing with a good one. And when push comes to shove, the Property Ombudsman can help take action on a complaint you may file against the estate agent if you felt you’ve not been treated very well as a potential buyer.