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Record numbers raise concerns about agents but official sales complaints drop

Concerns around market appraisals and how offers are handled are likely to be the key industry complaints this year amid lower levels of stock, The Property Ombudsman (TPO) claims.

It comes after TPO’s Annual Review for 2023 found the number of official sales complaints actually fell last year, helped by more people going through its early resolution service.

TPO resolved 1,663 sales disputes last year - down 12% - 740 of those were through early resolution - up 28% - while 923 were formal decisions, down 29%.


The main concerns were about instructions and fees followed by the under offer period and marketing and advertising.

The majority of sales complaints came from sellers at 70%, with 29% from buyers.

TPO upheld 61% of complaints in the consumer’s favour.

While the number of complaints were down, there was a 44% increase in the value of awards at £683,470, according to the report.

Issues of conditional selling and buyer reservation fees were highlighted as key concerns.

TPO’s review said: “Market conditions of 2022 have carried over into 2023 and a slowdown 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.”

Across the agency sector, TPO said a record 57,635 consumers sought assistance, up 30%.

Just 5,644 disputes were accepted for investigation, a 46% increase, while 47% were resolved with early resolution.

The Property Ombudsman Rebecca Marsh said: “We offer much more than dispute resolution, our expert teams provide guidance to resolve consumer issues before they escalate to complaints, saving consumers and businesses time and money.

“We also work with businesses to drive best practice through our Codes of Practice which have become the gold standard for the industry.

“The 99% with our decisions shows the industry wants to deliver high-quality service and offer redress where they fall short.”

“Consumers are increasingly demanding justice and becoming aware of the options available to them when unable to resolve a dispute with a property business. The consumer enquiry function is an important support for those who may struggle otherwise to access help for their property and housing related issues with multiple redress schemes serving both new, public and private properties.”



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