Thursday, 13 September 2012
Boost for property websites
Property websites which help people sell their homes privately could be given a boost at the expense of traditional estate agents, after the government confirmed proposals to exempt them from a raft of regulations.
The Department for Business said it would repeal the Property Misdescriptions Act and allow agents to bypass rules in the Estate Agents Act if they simply put buyers and sellers in touch with other .
The Consumers Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said removing the "red tape" would "cut through bureaucracy and allow people to buy and sell more easily".
However, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) warned that home buyers could lose out from the change.
"Consumers could, perhaps unknowingly, be left responsible for undertaking their own detailed sale negotiations without the advice and guidance of a property professional," warned Peter Bolton King from RICS.
He said that buyers and sellers would find it tricky to tell the difference between genuine estate agents and websites which simply offer a list of homes, putting them at significant risk.
To fill the gap left once the Property Misdescriptions Act has been axed, the Office of Fair Trading has issued new guidance laying down how estate agents should behave.
Drawing on the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, the guidance explains how property details should be accurate, how agents should include important information to help buyers make decisions and how consumers should not be put under undue pressure to complete a transaction.