Estate agent complaints up by one-third

Estate agent complaints up by one-third

Prices are not the only thing on the rise in the housing market. According to the Ombudsman for Estate Agents, which is an independent service that deals with disputes between member agents and actual or potential home buyers or sellers, it received more than 8,000 complaints from unhappy home buyers in 2006, up by more than a third from 2005. The main complaints had to do with mistakes in administration of sales, fees, and sales details.

The head of the OEA, Chris Hamer, put the blame for the higher number of complaints on individuals who are less willing to put up with poor service and the “inherent stress” that surrounds such a large and valuable transaction. That stress, said Mr. Hamer, makes estate agents an “easy target” if something goes wrong in a sale. Meanwhile Peter Bolton King, the chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, contends that the rise in complaints is not necessarily a bad thing. It means, rather, that more estate agents are subscribing to the OEA service and that more buyers and sellers of homes are aware of it, so that estate agents are being held to a higher standard.

On the other hand Martin Charlick, the managing director of The Little House Company, a private sale website, predicted that a fifth of estate agents will have to close their doors if they do not clean up their act. Mr. Charlick contends that too many agents lie to their customers, try to impose unfair contracts, and don’t provide services to match the fees they charge. In regards to fees, a survey said recently that while fees to estate agents have nearly tripled in the past ten years but have not changed much on a percentage basis, with almost all the gains being due to rising house prices.


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