OFT to investigate estate agents
08 December 2008 16:23
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is set to investigate UK estate agents and new ways of buying and selling homes.
The watchdog has announced in 2009 it intends to launch a market study into home buying and selling to see whether there is competition on price between estate agents and if consumers are protected by existing safeguards.
The study may also cover the relationships between estate agents, and mortgage brokers, surveyors, solicitors and other professional advisors.
John Fingleton, OFT chief executive, said: “Buying or selling a home is something most people do only a few times in their life, but it is usually the biggest transaction they will make.
“We want to ensure that consumers are served well when buying or selling a home and are supported by an effective, competitive and innovative market.”
Louise Hanson, Which? head of campaigns, said: “This could be great news for consumers and an important step towards reforming a market that we’ve had serious concerns about for years.
“The OFT market study should identify ways of making the process of buying and selling a home cheaper, quicker or easier.”
The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) has welcomed the move, calling for more regulation to stop cowboys entering the market.
Peter Bolton King, NAEA chief executive, said: “There is nothing to stop anybody from becoming an estate agent and there is a real need for consumers to be aware of this.
“Buying a house is probably the largest investment that a person will make, so they should make sure that they use property professionals.”
He added: “The NAEA has long called for appropriate regulation of the market and I hope that the OFT will recommend the same when it concludes its study.”
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