Online estate agent Emoov goes into administration
Online estate agent Emoov has gone into administration, leaving thousands of customers in limbo – if you're worried you'll lose out, here's what you need to know.
James Cowper Kreston, the firm appointed today to act as administrator for Emoov, says the site currently has 5,000 properties listed for sale, or sold subject to contract. It says around 80% of these listings have been paid for upfront, meaning many risk being left out of pocket – see below for more on what to do.
Emoov's chief executive Russell Quirk told MoneySavingExpert.com that cash flow issues contributed to the decision to go into administration. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Emoov website was still live, but the company's phone lines are down and customers have reported struggling to contact the firm for up to two weeks.
See our How to sell your property guide for full help on selling your home, via both high street and online estate agents.
How does Emoov work?
Emoov charged an £895 flat fee to sell a property, or £995 for a property within the M25. Homeowners could choose to pay upfront, after 10 months or when the property was sold.
The basic package included a 10-month advert on the major property sites, a 'for sale' sign and a property expert to do the initial valuation, photos, floor plan and manage the entire sale. Emoov also offered a £1,995 pay-on-completion package, where you'd only have to pay if your home was actually sold.
The administrator says recent attempts to sell the Emoov business have been unsuccessful, but that "a number of prospective buyers have indicated an interest in purchasing the client property listings".
If a firm does buy Emoov's property listings, the administrator says it hopes customers' listings will be honoured on the same terms they signed up to – but this can't be guaranteed. A further announcement is expected in the coming days.
The administrator has stressed that Emoov subsidiary Urban Sales and Lettings Limited is unaffected.
I've paid upfront and am worried I'll lose my money – what should I do?
As the administrator's currently trying to arrange the sale of property listings, you may be best to wait and see what happens in the next few days – you may not end up being left out of pocket.
But if a sale can't be arranged – or it is but you still lose out because your existing terms aren't honoured – you may need to try and get your money back.
The administrator says it will be writing to creditors in the coming days to invite them to submit claims for cash they are owed. But unfortunately if you do register as a creditor you're likely to be far down the list to be paid. Here are some options you may be able to try if left out of pocket:
- Paid on a credit card? Try Section 75. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, if you pay on your credit card for something costing more than £100, the card company's usually equally liable with the seller or supplier, and you may be able to claim from it. See our Section 75 guide for more info and template letters.
We've asked the Financial Ombudsman Service to confirm if Section 75 rights are likely to apply in this case, and will update this guide when we know more.
- Paid on a debit card? Try chargeback. Unlike Section 75, the chargeback scheme isn't a legal requirement, it's just a customer service promise. But it's worth trying and we've seen successful claims from people using this in the past. You may be covered by the Visa, Mastercard or American Express protection schemes. See our Chargeback guide for details of how to claim.
- Register as a creditor. The administrator says it will invite people to register as a creditor in the coming days, but has warned they will be ranked in order of priority. Secured creditors (ie, if Emoov borrowed money secured on property/assets), the administrator and employees are all likely to rank above customers – so you may not get much back.
What if I'm mid-sale?
Emoov offered customers an online account, which allowed sellers to view offers and keep track of their sale.
We've asked the administrator what a seller can do if they've accepted an offer but are now unable to contact their buyer, and if they will continue to have access to an estate agent throughout the remainder of their sale. We'll update this story when we hear back.
We also spoke to Andrew Leakey, head of dispute resolution at Stephensons Solicitors, who told us that as long as both the buyer's and seller's solicitors have been put in touch, they should be able to progress a sale without the estate agent.
Generally, solicitors are quickly put in touch once a sale is agreed, but if you're unsure contact your solicitor to check. If your solicitors have not been put in touch and you have no way of contacting your buyer/seller, contact the administrator and ask it to put you in touch with them.
What if I owe Emoov money?
If you're due to make a payment to Emoov, for instance if you had a pay-on-completion package and have just completed, don't assume you won't need to pay – it's likely the administrator will be in touch with details of how payment should be completed shortly.
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