An estate agent’s demand for proof of funds before allowing people view homes is a reasonable way to “weed out tyre-kickers,” according to financial analyst Karl Deeter.
Savills Estate Agents is informing people interesting in buying at the new Somerton development in Lucan that they must provide detailed financial information before viewing.
The group is asking people to fill out a questionnaire, including evidence of mortgage approval, personal savings or any gifts from family members.
They are also asked whether they are first-time buyers or investors and whether they are trading up or down.
Cash buyers are asked for a bank statement or solicitor's letter confirming funds are available.
The Labour Party’s Housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan has now asked the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) to investigate.
On Newstalk Breakfast, financial analyst Karl Deeter said Savills “may be within their rights” in seeking the information – but they will still need to answer the DPCs questions.
“There is a good reason for it,” he said. “We know that if 50 people view a house only one person is going to be a buyer. So, with COVID-19 restrictions it is reasonable to want to weed out tyre kickers.
“We know they can’t all be buyers and this is one way of doing it.”
Proof of funds
In a statement, Savills said the information is required to facilitate a “fair and efficient sales purchasing process” – noting that there are 44 homes available at Somerton and 5,000 people registered their interest.
It said open viewings are banned under the current COVID-19 guidelines and as a result, the viewings can only take place on a one-to-one basis.
Mr Deeter said the numbers speak for themselves.
“I can understand why people get outraged by it but look at it, the numbers tell you itself," he said.
“If there are 5,000 people who want to see something where there are only 44 of those things and there will only be 44 out of that 5,000.
“Imagine if this was a job interview and they said we have to weed out people who don’t have college degrees or Masters degrees until we get a size we can manage, you would completely understand it.”
He said Savills must now be able to tell the DPC why they are asking for the information, what they are doing with it, how they are storing it and for how long.
“Having a reason to do something doesn’t necessarily give you the right to do that thing,” he said.
“That is where this gets a little bit complicated. You have to understand that viewing a house is simply viewing a house and if they want to put some barriers in the way, that is fine. They could even say, if you want to view a house, we will just charge you €300. It doesn’t matter if you can afford the house or not, we are just going to say there is a fee for the viewing.
“That would also cause an outrage but it is just to make the point – what they are trying to do is establish if you are a legitimate buyer and establish their legitimate interest in obtaining this information.
“But that is very different from having the ability to prove why you’re processing it, what you are doing with it, where it is kept and for how long. That is the GDPR question.”
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