Foreign exchange companies and greedy estate agents

After recently talking to a business development manager at one of the leading foreign exchange companies, I have become aware of what can only be described as another example of 'estate agent sharp practice'.

It would seem that whenever anyone makes even a general enquiry about buying or selling a property abroad, at least two major estate agencies are passing on détails of the enquirer to all the major FE companies in order to receive client referral fees of 0.5% of the value of any future money exchanges. If they give your détails to all the main players, they can be almost certain that at some time in the future, you'll want to exchange money with one of them.

Months down the line, even if not buying through one of these agencies and perhaps only having made a very general email enquiry about a property for sale, the odds will be that you'll arrange a deal with one of these FE companies and the agency will start raking in the money on that and all future money transfers. You probably will not get quite as good a deal on your transfer because the referral fee will have to be paid by the FE company without the estate agency doing anything and you will know nothing about it because you'll think you've chosen the company yourself.

Certainly, this doesn't seem to be illegal, but the morality of it is doubtful because one company definitely states that they don't pass on client détails to any third parties

The sums involved are not unsubstantial - imagine transferring €200K from the UK to France - the referral fee would be €1000; multiply this by the 7000 properties that one of these agencies has on their books in France.........

To avoid greasing the agencies, use one of the links to the exchange companies advertising on this site. This way, you'll know your referral fee will no go to some old estate agent, but to the worthy cause of SFN!