The reason that your estate agent has asked you for proof of funds is two-fold.
Estate Agents act for the seller and not the buyer. It is their job to market the property that they are selling, to achieve the best price and the best buyer for the property. This is the first reason that you may be asked for proof of funds, to show that you can actually afford the property. Often a simple bank statement or, when funds are held in investments such as ISA’s, bonds or shares, a statement to show their value will suffice to satisfy the agent of this first criteria. If you cannot show that you can afford the property it makes you a less attractive option for a seller and the agent may advise their client to look for an alternative. Remember it’s not a matter of the agent looking to be nosey, they are simply doing their job.
The second reason is a regulatory one. Since 10th January 2020 when the EU’s Fifth Money Laundering Directive became active, Estate Agents (and in certain circumstances Letting Agents) are required to obtain proof of funds from you when you submit an offer to buy a property.
If the estate agent asks for proof of funds after you put an offer in, then they are not only checking that you have the money to actually pay for the property, but also that you haven’t acquired the money through criminal means. You must provide proof of funds if asked for it at this stage.
Proof of funds can be shown with:
- An agreement in principle/mortgage in principle
- Bank statements of your deposit amount (for mortgage buyers)
- Bank statements of your cash amount (for cash buyers)
- Evidence of you selling a property (if using the funds to buy the new property)
- Evidence if the money has been gifted
The estate agent can ask you to provide more details of where your money has come from. This is normal practice as all estate agents must conform to the Money Laundering Regulations, and doing thorough checks is standard practice.
In certain circumstances, the Estate Agent may ask for further proof. This will depend on where you got the money for your deposit or the property’s price (if you are a cash buyer), the agent may ask for further proof to show that the money has come from where you have claimed.
They may require, for example
- A letter from whoever gifted your money (for example your parents have given money towards your deposit, won the lottery, left money in a will)
- Further bank statements from the past months/years (to show how your money has built up over time)
- Evidence or receipts for gambling winnings, sale of shares or other large amounts of money in your bank account
Best practice is to keep evidence of where all the funds going towards your property purchase have come from; that way you can be prepared if your estate agent asks for it.
When you are buying a property this is not the only time that you will be asked to provide proof of funds. Your lender (via your broker or direct if you are not using a broker) as well as your lawyer will all require the same or similar information. It is best to be prepared in advance and not to get frustrated by their requests – remember they are only doing their job!
For further information about buying a property, the requirements to satisfy proof of funding or any related matter, why not contact one of Alexander JLO’s specialist property lawyers who will be happy to assist.