Saturday, April 08, 2006

Warning to Home Sellers

A SCAM which tries to con house sellers out of hundreds of pounds has hit Mid Beds.

Estate agents in Biggleswade and Potton have been targeted by a company called Capital Funding, which is subject to legal action by Beds County Council's Office of Fair Trading.

Capital Funding's practice is to contact house sellers direct and offer less than the asking price.

They imply they have a buyer ready to purchase the house and request a processing fee of £300 or £400 up front to cover various costs and searches.

In reality there is likely to be no buyer and the company simply re-advertises the property.

The Office of Fair Trading believes Capital Funding has been misleading consumers about their ability to purchase the properties.

Gary Picking from Lucas Estates in High Street, Biggleswade, said that he was contacted in January by Capital Funding, which was seeking information on houses for sale.

A few days later, he received faxes placing what he described as "sensible" offers on two properties, and requesting the sellers' details.

It was these "sensible" offers which made Mr Picking suspicious.

"You think 'that's good', but then you start thinking it's all too good to be true."

Mr Picking researched the company on the internet and found that it had been investigated in another part of the country.

He did not pass Capital Funding's offers on to the house sellers and contacted Bedfordshire Trading Standards to alert them of his concerns.

Trading standards are now warning estate agents and house sellers about the company.

Cllr Bob King, cabinet member for adult services on Bedfordshire County Council said: "Residents should think very carefully before entering into an agreement with this company or any other that offers a similar service and asks for payments up front.

"If contacted in this way homeowners should consider taking advice from their estate agent or legal adviser before entering into such an arrangement.

"They should be aware that they may be asked to make advance payments in the belief that the company has a buyer for their property, when in fact no such buyer exists."

Mr Picking's advice to home sellers in Mid Beds is simply not to deal with Capital Funding.

He said: "At the end of the day it's a scam. If the owner keeps getting £392 for doing nothing he's going to continue to do it.

"If you're asked for any money upfront by anyone trying to sell your house or buy your house there's something wrong.

"No buyer needs money off the vendor at any time.


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