Government to professionalise the estate agent market

Apr 10th 2018

New measures will be introduced to professionalise the estate agent market, driving up standards and bringing an end to ‘rogue managing agents’, announced Housing Secretary Sajid Javid this week.

With over one million homes bought and sold in England each year, delays and complications cause financial and emotional stress to buyers and sellers. This uncertainty leads to delayed decisions and contributes to over one quarter of house sales falling through annually.

According to government research, more than 6 out of 10 have experienced stress, and around a quarter of sellers said they would use a different estate agent if they were to go through the process again.

Professional qualifications

Estate agents will now be required to hold a professional qualification and to be transparent about the fees they receive for referring clients to solicitors, surveyors and mortgage brokers. Other measures to make the system easier, faster and more transparent include:

•   encouraging the use of voluntary reservation agreements to help prevent sales falling through and crack down on gazumping
•   setting a timeline for local authority searches so buyers get the information they need within 10 days
•   requiring managing agents and freeholders to provide up-to-date lease information for a set fee and to an agreed timetable which will end the current situation where leaseholders are at the mercy of freeholders and their agents
•   strengthening the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team so they can carry out more enforcement activity which includes banning agents

Consumers in the driving seat

We will require estate agents to hold a qualification so that people are no longer at risk from a minority of ‘rogue agents’ and can trust the process when buying or selling their home.”

There are approximately 20,000 estate agent businesses across the country, and currently, anyone can practice as an estate agent. The changes set out will professionalise the sector, creating a more trustworthy and reliable industry who will be better held to account.

Guides on ‘How to Buy’ and ‘How to Sell’ will be published to ensure people are better informed and know what questions to ask.. The government will work with consumer groups and industry to develop performance metrics for conveyancers, so consumers can make a more informed choice.