OFT to check out competition among estate agents

OFT to check out competition among estate agents

Estate agents that have so far survived the housing market downturn can look forward to a review of the market by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), in 2009.

The watchdog has promised to take a comprehensive look at the sector and will be involving both consumer groups and industry bodies.

In a similar study completed in 2004, the OFT saw the need for better self-regulation and clearer pricing controls among estate agents.

It plans to follow up this earlier work by checking out competition on price and quality and the prospects for new entry into the sector, particularly by online providers.

The review will also assess whether the existing regulatory framework offers consumers sufficient protection.

The OFT’s chief executive, John Fingleton, says he wants to ensure that consumers are served well when buying or selling a home and supported by an effective, competitive and innovative market.

The OFT points out that the industry has seen significant changes in the past four years: Home Information Packs have been introduced, along with new consumer legislation on unfair practices.

In addition all UK estate agents must now belong to an ombudsman service.

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