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Estate agents should be regulated, according to RICS

November 7th, 2012

Nine out of ten British home owners believe estate agents should have to meet a set of industry-wide regulatory criteria.

This statistic is the result of a nation-wide survey undertaken by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

A large proportion of respondents to the survey commented that they did not check whether or not the estate agent was a regulated member of a professional body and of those, only 54 per cent said that they trusted their agent to provide honest and truthful advice.

Based on this, there have been calls for reform that would make it compulsory for estate agents to conform to a specific set of guidelines.

A staggering 91 per cent of those questioned believed that buyers would be better protected if compulsory regulation were introduced.

Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director: “These results show a shocking lack of consumer trust in the estate agency profession. Clearly, when people are making the biggest purchase of their lives, they want to know that they can trust their agent and the advice they’re given.

People who are buying or selling a house should always check that their agent is a regulated member of a professional body, such as RICS, who abide by ethical codes.”

The body surveyed more than 1,000 people who had bought a home or had a valuation of a property they were considering buying in the last five years.

RICS estate agents are legally bound to offer a customer redress scheme, unlike those who are not members of a professional body. This means unregulated estate agents are not obliged to meet minimum competency standards and are not subject to the scrutiny of regulatory monitoring.

An unregistered agent may technically be abiding by existing legislation but could be providing inaccurate advice.

Compulsory regulation could “improve consumer protection and minimise the burden on business by simplifying legislation, making it easier for agents to abide by”, according to primeresi.com.

Anyone looking into buying a property should establish whether their estate agent is registered to an official body before committing.

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