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TPO: Agents must be wary of appraisal and offer complaints 

Estate agents have been urged to be wary of complaints around market appraisals and the handling of offers.

The latest annual review from The Property Ombudsman (TPO) highlights seller concerns about valuations and buyers complaining about how offers have handled as emerging concerns.

Property Ombudsman Rebecca Marsh said: “Difficult market conditions will increase competition to gain instructions from sellers and landlords. In both instances agents must strive to ensure that market valuations are reasonable and are supported by comparable properties. For tenants and buyers, clarity around offers will be paramount and agents must communicate these in writing to all relevant parties.”


It said: “Market conditions of 2022 have carried over into 2023 and, to date, has seen a slow down in transactions. 

“For agents, competition to market a smaller pool of properties will increase and this is likely to see seller concerns around valuations and during market appraisals increase. 

“For buyers, a smaller pool of properties is likely to result in an increase in concerns around the handling of offers. Estate agents must ensure all offers are communicated in writing and that appropriate comparable properties are used when providing market valuations.”

It comes as TPO’s 2022 annual review showed a 4% increase in sales disputes resolved by the redress scheme at 1,883.

The main causes of sales disputes were instructions, terms of business, fees, charges and termination; marketing and advertising; communication between offer acceptance and exchange.

The TPO said complaints about fees were on the rise but issues around how estate agents handle issues reduced to the extent that it dropped out of the top five causes.

Of sales disputes presented to TPO, 1,212 came from sellers and 648 from buyers, while 61% were upheld in the consumers’favour.

TPO highlighted that a lot of issues were resolved at enquiry stage before being raised as a dispute. There were 3,463 issues raised by sellers and 2.056 from buyers

Across all agency sectors, consumer enquiries remained high at just under 45,000.

Of the 6,012 disputes that TPO resolved last year, 2,246 were done so through early resolution while 3,766 required a formal decision - a 23% increase on 2021.

TPO member compliance with Ombudsman decisions remained extremely high at 98.4% 

There was a financial settlement or award granted in 3,206 of cases, with just 33 unpaid awards resulting in the expulsion of 22 agents from the scheme. 

This translates to just under a 99% compliance rate, with these agents constituting just 0.06% of TPO’s 38,846 membership.

TPO resolved 2,650 disputes relating to lettings, 1,883 relating to sales, 1,220 for residential leasehold management (RLM) and 259 for other property professionals. The biggest awards were £21,779 (lettings), £15,500 (sales) and £23,634 (RLM), and the average awards were £504, £488 and £416 respectively. 

Marsh added: “I am pleased that we were able to help more people through our front-end enquiry service to the extent that the number of disputes accepted by the Scheme reduced by 30%. 

“Not only did this mean that consumers were given the advice they needed to resolve their issues early but, importantly, for TPO members it meant significant savings for them in not having to deal with the complaints that would have otherwise occurred. It is a service unique to Ombudsmen and one that I very proud of.”

  • Kristjan Byfield

    I wonder how many landlords/vendors complaining about an over-valuation are open about the other valuations they received? Personally feel that this should be taken into consideration here- yes , an agent over-valued, but did the client ignore 2-3 accurate & evidenced valuations to simply go with the highest value and/or lowest fee?

    Frank Browne

    Couldn't agree more Kristjan!

  • Samantha Sullivan

    I'm glad to see something in writing which tells agent to use sold price comparables, these pop up shop agencies need to be knocked on the head, and the corporates who think an agent of 6 months should be allowed out valuing homes.


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