A man was awarded compensation after an estate agent was found to have breached a code of conduct concerning the sale of a house in Taverham.

Eastern Daily Press: Mr Walker sold his house in Taverham but only after using another estate agent. Pic: Archant.Mr Walker sold his house in Taverham but only after using another estate agent. Pic: Archant.

Alexander Walker had wanted a quick sale of his home on Trimming Walk so he could move to Scotland and care for his mother, suffering from dementia.

When his estate agent William' Way, based in Drayton, found him a buyer, he accepted their offer but the sale collapsed six weeks later.

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A property ombudsman found in Mr Walker's favour, stating the agents were in breach of professional conduct, by not checking the financial situation of the buyers, and awarded compensation.

Eastern Daily Press: William's Way, Drayton. Pic: Archant.William's Way, Drayton. Pic: Archant.

A spokesman from William's Way told this newspaper: 'We wish the house buying and selling process offered more guarantees, but unfortunately that is not the case here in England and there is always risk involved. Having started the business just over three years ago we were bitterly disappointed to receive our first and only complaint to date.'

Mr Walker went on to sell his house with another agent for £8,500 more. After a five month investigation by the ombudsman, he was awarded compensation for 'aggravation, distress and inconvenience' and to cover his legal fees.

The ombudsman, in her report, stated the agents had told Mr Walker that the first couple to put in an offer 'were in the best possible position' and 'ready to go' so based on this, he accepted it for £242,000, £8,000 under the price he wanted. Mr Walker had thought all the buyers' checks had been made. He said he would never have accepted the offer if he had known the buyers did not have the finance in place, particularly as there were a number of other people wishing to view.

'My prime concern is that these breaches are highlighted,' said Mr Walker, who now lives in Scotland. 'My experience was distressing and I advise prospective sellers to check if their agent has been in breach of the ombudsman's code. When the sale fell through and I sacked William's Way, I then decided to appoint an established firm in Norwich to handle the sale and this was successful. I received six good offers with financial checks within 10 days. The offer I accepted was £8,500 above the failed offer put forward by William's Way. But I lost four precious months that I could have spent supporting my mother.'

The ombudsman's inquiry found that William's Way 'had not taken adequate steps to advise the complainant fully of the potential purchasers' financial position.' In conclusion William's Way had not acted in accordance with their professional code of conduct. 'Due care and attention was not taken... I would criticise William's Way for lack of diligence'.

William's Way commented: 'Those who have worked with us know the effort we put in to ensure a secure sale. Most of our business comes by word of mouth and we are proud of their positive recommendations.'

Mr Walker can now can choose to take the case further, to court, on the points raised.