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"Full proof of funds": Estate agent asks potential buyers for detailed financial information before house viewings

Savills asked viewers for ‘evidence of savings’ or mortgage approval in principle documents including full amounts.

A unit at the Somerton Phase 2 development in Lucan, Co Dublin
A unit at the Somerton Phase 2 development in Lucan, Co Dublin
Image: Savills

A TOP ESTATE agency is asking prospective house buyers to provide detailed financial information and proof of funds before they can view properties at a new Dublin development because of “high demand”.

To secure a place at the launch of property group Quintain Ireland’s Somerton project in Lucan, Co Dublin, estate agents Savills has required house hunters to fill out a financial questionnaire.

Parties interested in viewing a show house at the upcoming launch are asked to identify their funding sources and their status within the market: whether they’re first-time buyers, investors or if they’re trading up or down.

They are also required to provide “full proof of funds” in order to view the houses, which range in price from €395,000 for a mid-terrace to €565,000 for a detached house.

This could include “evidence of all savings that will be used in the purchase” or “evidence of gifts from family members, if applicable”, according to an email seen by The Journal and first flagged on the Instagram account Crazy Irish House Prices.

Prospective buyers availing of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme are also asked to provide evidence.

If the interested person plans to purchase the property with cash, Savills requests “a bank statement or letter from your solicitor confirming funds are available”.

At the very least, potential viewers are asked to furnish the estate agent with a mortgage ‘approval in principle’ document, which includes the amount the bank is prepared to lend.

“Please note that if submitting letters from your mortgage broker, the loan amount must be visible. We cannot accept a redacted Approval in Principle,” the email states.

Screenshot 2021-06-14 at 14.58.44 Savills' definition of 'full proof of funds'

The Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA), which regulates property services providers, told The Journal there is “nothing in the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011 to prevent this practice”.

A PSRA spokesperson said the Act “places no conditions relating to agents requesting personal or financial information. Agents should be guided by the provisions of the Data Protection Commissioner in such matters.” 

“Any issues regarding the information requested may be a matter for the Data Protection Commissioner,” the spokesperson added.

A spokesperson for Savills told The Journal that the company is asking for detailed information because it “cannot facilitate general open viewings” due to Covid-19 restrictions.

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“This is to safeguard the health and safety of all purchasers,” the spokesperson added.

“As a result of very high demand – several thousand applicants in this instance – the Phase 2 Launch of Somerton are by private sales appointment only.

“Therefore, to facilitate a fair and efficient sales purchasing process, we require proof of funds to the value of the property in advance of the private purchaser viewing. Prices were set out prior to the request for proof of finance.”

Asked about Savills’ data protection and deletion safeguards for personal information such as bank statements, the spokesperson said, “Data is retained based on progression through the sales process for a specific development.

“Those who don’t proceed with a purchase will have their data purged.” 

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