Tuesday, October 18, 2016 15:17 AM

Complaints about estate agents are not falling, despite fewer homes being sold.

The Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA) saw just a three per cent fall in disputes over the sales of homes – despite the number of sales falling by as much as 60 per cent.

Christopher Hamer, the Ombudsman for Estate Agents, said: “I am surprised that my workload in sales disputes has not reduced more significantly.

“Perhaps it shows that buyers and sellers have still higher expectations of agents’ service whilst there are so few properties being sold.”

In total 2008 saw 1,043 complaints dealt with by the ombudsman, up 78 per cent on two years ago – split between 743 for sales and 300 for lettings.

Awards of £385,000 were handed out – with most being between £100 and £499.

However, in one case an estate agent was forced to pay a client £23,880 – £1,000 for distress, aggravation and inconvenience and £22,880 for financial losses – after it was found conflicting advice was given by staff and the agent had failed to act in the best interests of the client. Because of mounting evidence such as this, that there are more and more homeowners turning away from the traditional home selling channels, and opting to do it via a quick house sale, with said companies offering a completed sale in as little as 2 weeks or less.

The ombudsman also reported a 200 per cent rise in lettings disputes.

“Lettings agents still only join the OEA on a voluntary basis and it is therefore satisfying to see so many firms opening up access to my scheme for their customers,” said Mr Hamer.

“Those firms will be operating in accordance with the standards laid down in the OEA’s Code of Practice.”

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