Government to amend the Estate Agents Act

| September 13, 2012
Government to amend the Estate Agents Act

The Government is planning to make it easier for websites which display property for private sale to operate.

Currently, these sites are governed by the Estate Agents Act 1979 and the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991, and are therefore required to make various checks such as ensuring that homes are described accurately in adverts.

The government now plans to make intermediary agents exempt from the Estate Agents Act and to repeal the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991, which will mean they are no longer bound by rules meant for estate agents.

The move has caused concern that people selling properties may find it difficult to distinguish between traditional estate agents and intermediaries.

Sites owned by intermediaries link sellers to potential private buyers, allowing the seller to avoid the fees which traditional estate agents charge for selling a property.

Intermediaries do not offer advice or play an active part in the sales process.

Peter Bolton King, of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said: “Consumers could, perhaps unknowingly, be left responsible for undertaking their own detailed sale negotiations without the advice and guidance of a property professional.

“This could lead to delays, increased costs and even sales falling through, causing frustration and stress for all involved.”

The proposed changes are part of the government’s efforts to boost the property market.

Consumer affairs minister, Jo Swinson, said: “Reducing the regulations for these businesses will open up the market and increase choices for consumers looking to save costs when buying or selling a property.”

Meanwhile, RICS has reported that the proportion of properties on chartered surveyors’ books sold during August remained steady at an average of 7.5 per cent.

However, less people viewed homes during the month, possibly due to poor weather and the distraction of the 2012 Olympics.

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