Duncan Lewis

Romford Office

Crime and Civil cases

house 40 staff

Intermediaries in property sales not getting involved in actual selling would be saved from regulations aimed at estate agents

Date: (14 September 2012)    |    

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Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson has announced that businesses hosting private property sales advertisements without getting involved in the sales process would be no longer subject to various regulations aimed at estate agents,.
It was government’s response to the consultation on amending the Estate Agents Act to boost new business models confirming plans to exempt intermediary agents which help homeowners privately advertise and sell their houses from the Estate Agents Act 1979 (EAA).
Government will also repeal the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 (PMA) which currently requires these businesses to check the accuracy of advertised property details. The PMA has largely been superseded by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations and the Business Protection from Misleading Advertising Regulations, which could be applied more flexibly and have a wider range of enforcement measures and protections.
The measures would ensure that these businesses do not face disproportionate costs as a result of regulations intended for traditional estate agents.
Jo Swinson said to boost a flourishing housing market which was hugely important to the economy, and one way to do that was to cut through bureaucracy and allow people to buy and sell more easily. This is why the government was proposing to change the rules so that businesses that facilitate private property sales were not caught out by the regulations for estate agents.
These intermediaries help buyers and sellers contact each other at a low cost, but don’t engage in other estate agent activities, so it’s unfair to expect them to go out and check all the property details of all the sellers on their websites. 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.
Selling privately could be a useful and cost efficient method, but consumers should always make sure they were well informed about the different levels of protection offered by these businesses compared to traditional estate agents.
Whilst most people prefer to use estate agents to sell their house, some opt to do the work themselves and sell privately in order to save on estate agent fees.
In recent years, web-based intermediaries and portals have been hosting private property sales advertisements, but were not getting involved in the sales process. These types of disinterested parties comes at a low costs, and do not engage in estate agents activities, such as providing advice. Currently however, they may still be defined as estate agents under the EAA.
These changes arise from the Disruptive Business Models theme of the Government’s Red Tape Challenge. Government will bring forward an amendment as soon as the parliamentary timetable allows.