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Agency regulation and enforcement will improve home sales - claim

Estate agency regulation is needed to help improve the homebuying and selling process, MPs have been told.

The first hearing of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC)’s inquiry into the challenges facing the property sales market was held yesterday.

Witnesses included Kate Faulkner, chair of the Home Buying and Selling Group, Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, Mairead Carroll, senior property specialist at RICS, Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns at Propertymark and Beth Rudolf, director of delivery, The Conveyancing Association


Asked how the home buying and selling process could be improved, Faulkner suggested better communication between all parties involved and mandating upfront information.

Higgins added that estate agents are gatekeepers to people buying or selling property so wondered why they aren’t regulated and said many aren’t sure of the rules.

She said there also needs to be better enforcement of existing legislation, highlighting that she hears many examples of buyers being told to pay deposits to make offers or being required to speak to an in-house mortgage broker- all of which is illegal.

MPs were also told that one issue is that Trading Standards, the industry regulator, is funded by councils, which have no money.

Douglas agreed that agency regulation is needed and suggested legislation currently going through Parliament on leasehold and rental reform should be used to implement Lord Best Regulation of Property Agents’ report that recommended minimum standards and qualifications for property professionals.


  • icon

    Propertymark and others using their members money to lobby government in order to line their pockets with our money.
    Where is the actual agency professionals representation here? And no PM don't represent the industry, in fact they barely represent their members, as they barely ever consult with them.

  • Andrew Stanton PROPTECH-PR A Consultancy for Proptech Founders

    Various governments has been taking evidence regarding the home buying and selling process for at least thirty years probably much longer. Typically the government 'helps' the property industry with politically expedient wheezes like SDLT giveaway, (Rishi Rich as Chancellor) or the tightening of tax loopholes MIRAS reduction (Lawson as Chancellor) all of which create boom & bust cycles.

    In terms of doing anything useful, maybe actually taking a sounding from the 16,000 agents and 4,000 conveyancers/solicitors and 200+ lenders would be a start, especially the people who transfer the title of properties. I say this as I can not conceive why for example The Home Owners Alliance which is a limited company for profit and has its own agenda and on a daily basis neither lists inventory, introduces buyers or acts as an agent, should be saying agents need to be further regulated, maybe there should instead be far tighter regulation on businesses sitting on the periphery.

    On a personal level, both as an ex agent of some thirty years and now having spent seven years with numerous bodies and a huge swathe of property technology companies all looking to speed the plough with regard to getting property 'done' - I can say that though successive governments think it helps their credibility to have housing and property on their agenda - it will be private enterprise that smashes out the the solution.

    In half a generation when all forms of real estate have finally gone through several waves of digital transformation powered by different and new technologies, all this debate by groups with disparate agendas will be consigned to the history book and the relatively small sector that is residential agency in the UK will be powered by software, in the same way banking has transformed itself.

  • Nigel Colebrook

    Last Saturday the Daily Telegraph published an item about “Estate agents charge buyers to take homes off the market”. This related to the latest trend of online auction houses charging a registration fee for potential buyers and is yet another example of how corporate greed has corrupted and destroyed what used to be a respected profession as a result of incompetence by the professional bodies and lack of regulation by successive governments.

    Having recently retired after over 55 years in the business, I have been astounded by the fact that increasingly countless businesses, institutions, corporates and individuals ignore the basic tenet of estate agency – that the person who pays – ie the house seller or landlord is the client.

    Any other source of income from that sale is potentially a conflict of interests.

    Since deregulation of the financial markets in the 1980s when banks, building societies and insurance companies decided that estate agency was a golden ticket to other markets - and failed miserably not realising that the business was about people and not targets - there has been a constant stream of money raising initiatives all of which exacerbate that conflict from selling mortgages, insurance and loans to present day trends where letting agents now put fees for handling repairs, taking up anti money laundering checks, charging for inventories and adding a premium on handling repairs etc. on top of their management charge and set up fee. This just adds to the costs of both the seller or landlord and the buyer or tenant and causes more delays

    This latest scam is yet another example of opportunists trying to make an extra buck out of what again produces a conflict of interest. Are they really acting in the clients’ best interest?

    It is high time that the Government and professional bodies licenced individuals to operate as agents and to regulate the corporates and institutional firms who compound the situation in their eternal pursuit to increase profit.

  • icon

    In the recent discourse surrounding the regulation of the UK estate agency industry, a prevailing concern arises: are estate agents to allow unelected Lords to determine their fate? This rhetorical question encapsulates the apprehension felt by many within the industry, including myself, regarding the proposed regulatory measures. It begs the question: why impose additional regulations upon estate agents when numerous other industries seem to sidestep such scrutiny, despite arguably meriting it more?

    The existing legislative framework governing estate agents, notably the Estate Agents Act, mandates registration with pertinent authorities such as ombudsmen, the IPO office, and HMRC for Money Laundering Regulations (MLR) compliance. These stringent requirements already ensure accountability and transparency within the industry. Furthermore, agents have the option to pursue accreditation through organisations like Propertymark, further bolstering professionalism and ethical standards.

    However, amidst these robust regulatory structures, one cannot overlook the underlying motivations behind calls for further regulation. It raises valid concerns about the vested interests at play, particularly concerning organisations like Propertymark. What incentive do they truly have beyond financial gain in advocating for increased regulation? It appears evident that their agenda may not wholly align with the best interests of estate agents, raising questions about their impartiality in representing our industry.

    Instead of unilateral decisions made by select entities, it is imperative to democratise the process. Let us advocate for transparency and fairness by subjecting proposed regulatory measures to a general vote, involving all UK agencies. Such an approach would provide an accurate gauge of industry sentiment and ensure that any regulatory changes garner genuine support from those directly affected.

    In conclusion, the proposed regulations risk encroaching upon the autonomy and integrity of the UK estate agency industry without substantial justification. The existing framework adequately addresses concerns regarding professionalism and compliance. Therefore, before hastily endorsing further regulations, let us critically evaluate their necessity and ensure that any proposed measures truly serve the interests of estate agents and the industry at large.

    Frank Browne

    I couldn't agree more with your sentiments David. You put that forward very eloquently. Sadly, I fear it will fall on the "deaf ears" of those that matter.

  • Hit Man

    It appears that PropertyMark is betraying its members by advocating for regulations that primarily benefit itself. The best course of action for agents may be to disassociate and allow PropertyMark along with any like-minded associations to navigate their own paths.


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