National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team and two of the three industry redress organisations have launched a survey to measure the use of referral fees amongst estate agents.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has set up a working group to look in greater detail at the issue of estate agents and referral fees, which surfaced as an issue in the response to the government’s Call for Evidence on home buying and selling.
It is thought the government may move to ban such fees.
“The consultation responses to whether government should take further action to enforce current transparency regulations regarding the disclosure of referral fees were overwhelmingly supportive” says James Munro, head of NTSEAT.
“However, at the inaugural meeting, it was decided that more information was required from agents about the nature of fees they currently received. The results of this survey will feed into the working group discussions” he adds.
The survey is being conducted with support from two redress organisations, Property Redress Services and The Property Ombudsman.
The Property Ombudsman Katrine Sporle has already told attendees at TPO annual conference that the case for a complete ban on referral fees remains under review and that greater transparency is required.
In reference to the survey, she says: “We’re not asking for agents to incriminate themselves, but government is concerned about transparency and wants consumers to be able to make informed choices.
“The results of the survey will help provide evidence of how agents currently approach referral fees and allow the working group to discuss how the industry can work together to adopt a standardised approach of up-front disclosure.”
Sean Hooker, head of redress at PRS says it’s critical that the maximum number of agents take the survey “that a complete as possible picture of what happens on the ground is available to the policy makers.”
He concludes: “By building a comprehensive profile of referral fees, it will enable the working group to make constructive proposals to the government that reflect what fees are received, regional differences and how consumers are informed.”