How estate agents are overcharging buyers by as much as £57K

The great floor plan scam: How estate agents are overcharging buyers by an average of £57K due to layouts that claim properties are BIGGER than they are – while some sellers find their homes UNDER valued

  • London home buyers are being overcharged by an average of £34k, it’s revealed
  • Properties are being overvalued due to misleading estate agent floor plans
  • Inaccurate measurements means they’re listed as being bigger than they are
  • Issue also applies to people selling, with the size of some homes underestimated

Home buyers are being overcharged by tens of thousands of pounds due to misleading floor plans, research reveals. 

Estate agents often rely on inaccurate or outdated measurements that overstate a property’s size, leading to inflated valuations. It means buyers are forking out more than they should for flats and homes.

The issue also affects homeowners looking to sell, with estate agent estimates sometimes coming up short, leading to an undervaluation. 

A report by property technology start-up Spec found flats and houses in London are being mis-sold – both over and under – by an average of £33,800, with the amount rising to £57,697 when only houses are considered.

The estate agent floor plan (top) stated the size of this property in Fulham, west London, as 2,895 sq ft but Spec’s digital survey (bottom) found it to be 2,603 sq ft, meaning it was over-stated by 292 sq ft. Stairwells were included multiple times when they should only be included once and the outside garden area included in the GIA (Gross Internal Area). This miscalculation meant the property was overvalued by approximately £182,792

The study assessed more than 300 houses and flats across the capital. 

For each property researchers compared the square footage listed on the estate agent floor plan with the result of a digital survey carried out by experts at Spec.

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It found floor plans over-stated the size of the properties in 60 per cent of cases.   

The area was miscalculated by an average of 54sq ft per property, roughly the size of a small bedroom or study. This is particularly pertinent for homes and areas where space is at a premium and every square footage carries a significant monetary value.

Estate agents stated the size of this South Kensington home (top) as 1,475sq ft but Spec (bottom) found it to be 1,650sq ft. The company noted the 174sq ft understatement was down to the storage areas not being included. This means it was undervalued by approx. £140,000

Meanwhile 1 in 8 properties were over or understated by 100sq ft, the equivalent of £57,697 in value. 

In some instances the difference between the two was the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of pounds in price.  

Commenting on the report, Anthony Browne, Senior Advisor to Spec, said: ‘This is the great hidden scandal in the property market. 

This West Kensington home was stated as being 4,638sq ft by the estate agent (top) but found to be 4,314sq ft by Spec (bottom). The 324sq ft difference is equal to £190,300

‘For almost everyone, their home is the most valuable thing they ever buy, but they usually have to rely on very inaccurate and misleading measurements that could affect its value by hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

‘It is ridiculous that when you buy a pint of beer or a pound of sugar you know exactly what you are getting, but when you buy your home you don’t. 

‘The size of a home clearly affects its value, so it is essential that the measurements are accurate.’ 

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