New research from the National Association of Estate Agents and the Association of Residential Letting Agents reveals that no fewer than 54 per cent of people who have bought, sold or rented a property in the last five years have faced problems.
In joint research, the two trade bodies say key problems hitting customers of agents - mostly affecting the rental sector, it seems - included waiting a long time for any issues with the property to be fixed (38 per cent), struggling to get old items replaced (20 per cent), and not getting full deposits back without being told why (12 per cent).
On the sales side, over half encountered issues and these included bad communication (19 per cent), feeling as if the agent didn’t care about them (12 per cent) and feeling pressurised (10 per cent).
NAEA and ARLA put much of this down to buyers, sellers and landlords not checking that the agents they dealt with was part of a professional body.
The research says that while over one million homes were bought or sold in England and Wales in 2016 - a clear majority of which will have involved an agent - some 37 per cent of buyers and sellers, and 42 per cent of renters didn’t consider whether their agent was part of a professional body before progressing with their transaction.
For 42 per cent of renters it didn’t cross their mind to ask; one in six (14 per cent) wrongly assumed all letting agents were regulated.
Only some 47 per cent of buyers or sellers checked if their estate agent was regulated before moving ahead with the sale or purchase. Around 37 per cent admit they didn’t think to ask while 14 per cent prioritised the property and went with the agent because they were attached to the home they wanted to buy.
Additionally the NAEA/ARLA research reveals that 70 per cent of buyers worry that their sale won’t go through, even after the offer has been accepted; this is down, say the organisations, to “a sense of mistrust between buyers and sellers also plague property sales making some transactions uncomfortable for all involved.”
In a statement accompanying the research Mark Hayward and David Cox, head of the NAEA and ARLA respectively, say that although most people do not hesitate to use the estate agent attached to the property they’re buying or renting, it’s important to at least ask the question about their professional credentials.
“Property transactions almost always takes longer than expected, and you may be forced into negotiations mid-way through the process – particularly for buyers. Your estate or letting agent should be there to guide you through the process and make it as smooth and pain-free as possible, which all Propertymark Protected agents will endeavour to do” says Hayward and Cox.
“The number of buyers, sellers and renters checking to see if their agent is regulated has improved since 2014, but it’s still worrying that so many people assume all agents are members of a professional body.”