OFT Report Shows Improved Satisfaction With Estate Agents

  • 15 years ago
  • Uncategorized
Evidence from the research suggests that consumers are increasingly open to alternative methods of buying or selling a home. While the large majority of sellers used a traditional estate agent, more than a third initially considered selling privately, using an online estate agent, or selling at auction. There is a marked increase in interest in online estate agents relative to our previous survey in 2004.
Consumer satisfaction with the services provided by estate agents has improved – 88 per cent of both buyers and sellers were satisfied with the service provided by estate agents, a higher level of satisfaction than five years ago (72 per cent of buyers and 74 per cent of sellers). The majority of consumer complaints in the sector are about the individual buyer or seller on the other side of the transaction or their solicitor, rather than with the estate agent involved.
One of the surveys asked Trading Standards about enforcement action against estate agents. On average, 24 per cent of estate agents were found not to be complying with the relevant regulations on the first visit from Trading Standards officers.
The research also covered the question of fees received by estate agents on services provided to buyers such as referrals for mortgages, surveys, legal advice and other services. On average, estate agents made recommendations about the providers of such ancillary services to 65 per cent of buyers and 36 per cent of buyers took up these recommendations and went on to use at least one of these services.
Most buyers said that the estate agent had described the options available for taking third party services, but did not push them – the majority (82 per cent) did not feel that they had received a ‘hard sell’.
In the home buying and selling process, estate agents represent the seller. When asked whose interests they felt the estate agent from whom they bought their property was representing, 53 per cent of buyers felt that the estate agent was working equally on behalf of them and the seller, 40 per cent felt that the estate agent was working mostly on the seller’s behalf, while six per cent felt that the estate agent was working mostly on their behalf, as a buyer.
Nineteen per cent of buyers said they had experienced a purchase falling through after they had made an offer that the seller had accepted – the most common reason for a sale falling through was another buyer made a better offer, followed by the buyer withdrawing after a survey showed problems with the house, and problems elsewhere in the chain.
Heather Clayton, OFT Senior Director of Infrastructure, said:
‘This is important research which updates the available evidence about the process of buying and selling a home and current and future developments in the sector. For example, it shows the enormous potential for new internet-based business models in home buying and selling.
Our final report will look at, among other things, how new ways of buying and selling a home may develop in the future, whether there is scope to improve consumer protection enforcement, consumer awareness of potential pitfalls in the process and ancillary services sold by estate agents.’

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