New OFT guidance on the definition of estate agents, states that private sales portals do not need to conform to the Estate Agents Act. The OFT website text referring to exemptions from the Act has been changed to reflect this guidance, stating:
“Exemption….The exemption also includes Intermediaries such as Internet property portals for private sales, which merely enable private sellers to advertise their properties and provide a means for sellers and buyers to contact and communicate with one another”.
Jonathan Hudson, MD of West End estate agent Hudsons Property in London, says, “There is a real risk of buyers receiving information without any comeback or redress.
This has time bomb written all over it. And it only plays into the hands of some of the bigger firms like Tesco who are looking to provide a cheap market agency for their customers.
All the professionalism of marketing, local knowledge, area guides and price guiding will be lost as owners will be deciding how much their properties are worth. Most people think they have the best house on the road and will, therefore, push the market beyond what is sensible as they will not have professional estate agents providing accurate data to back up valuations because they will not know what else has sold.
Half the agents’ job in an upward market is to reason sensibly with sellers to make sure they don’t overprice their properties.