Estate agents must pay out

FULFORDS estate agents has been ordered to pay compensation by an ombudsman after giving misleading and inaccurate information to an elderly client.

FULFORDS estate agents has been ordered to pay compensation by an ombudsman after giving misleading and inaccurate information to an elderly client.Countrywide Plc (CW), trading as Fulfords Estate Agents, was reported for its handling of the sale of Joyce Norrish's West Hill bungalow. In awarding £3,510.90 compensation, the Ombudsman said: "The seller has suffered avoidable and undue aggravation, considerable distress and severe inconvenience as a result of admitted failures by CW. "A vulnerable client was left so upset, worried and confused as to lose all trust and confidence in her estate agents."Ian Fraser, Fulfords' managing director, said: "This is a case which unfortunately involved the buyer failing to complete the purchase on time."He said, as the family had accepted compensation, it would not be right to comment further.Mrs Norrish asked Fulfords to sell her Lower Broad Oak Close home, after the death of her son and husband, so she could move to Somerset to be near her daughters.One of them, Miriam Parry, said: "My mother had never before bought or sold a property on her own, and my sister and I feel Fulfords took advantage of her inexperience and vulnerability."She was made an MBE for a lifetime of service to her community and to see our newly-bereaved elderly mother treated in this way has been heart-breaking."Mrs Parry continued: "We fought this case not only on behalf of our mother, but also for other elderly people who may not have families to support them."The OEA supported complaints that Fulfords falsely represented the purchaser as a cash buyer, interfered with the conveyancing process, provided unjustified, misleading and over optimistic statements. It noted some substance in the complaint that staff were untrained, impolite and made offensive remarks.The Ombudsman said: "CW's standard of service was below what I would have expected. "They provided inaccurate details about the financial status of the purchaser and failed to maintain their financial checks during the purchase despite clear uncertainty. As a consequence of this they continued to misrepresent the purchaser."CW also provided unjustified, misleading and inaccurate information regarding the status of the sale and failed to act within the requirements of the OEA Code of Practice, to act in the seller's best interests. Their intervention in the conveyancing process was inappropriate and ill judged"The Ombudsman said Fulfords recognised shortcomings in their service and Mrs Norrish's family had rejected a goodwill offer of £3,510,90, the same amount as the ombudsman awarded in compensation.Mr Fraser added: "The complainants have taken the matter to the Ombudsman for Estate Agents and have accepted an award in full and final settlement. In the light of acceptance of the full and final settlement, we feel it would not be in the spirit of the agreement for us to comment further.

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