OFT Ignores Plea For Estate Agency Regulation

Watchdog fails to acknowledge consumer protection is needed


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The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has recommended against regulation of the estate agency sector in its report "Home Buying and Selling: A Market Study".

Currently, it is possible to start up as an estate agent without qualifications or accreditation and the OFT believes this should continue to be the case.

The watchdog estimated that sellers are out of pocket by as much as £570m a year by paying too much commission to estate agents. It has encouraged homeowners to negotiate the commissions demanded by estate agents.

Christian Harper of Chiswick estate agent OliverFinn, "Pre-credit crunch, the OFT didn’t take the opportunity to recommend tighter regulation for banks, and look where that got us. Estate agents need to become more professional by way of regulation. Currently, someone could be a milkman on Monday, and on Tuesday be paying you a visit to value your house. I do not believe this to be fair on the general public.

"Self-regulation following codes of practice didn’t work for British banking and it won’t work for the British property industry either."

The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) was also disappointed by the OFT's decision. Chief executive Peter Bolton King, "Once again, the OFT has categorically failed to see that better regulation of the home buying and selling market is required. Buying a home is often the largest single transaction of a person's life and it is disappointing that the OFT has not thought it appropriate to acknowledge that a robust and appropriate level of consumer protection is needed.

"We would like to see a greater level of regulation to ensure that professional, qualified estate agents are not confused with agents that, all too often, fail to meet the basic professional standards."

March 1, 2010