The How to Buy and How to Sell guides have been updated by the Ministry of Housing.
The updates both offer new guidance on referral fees, emphasising that consumers do not have to go with recommended services and that they must be told about fees earned by agents through referrals.
The wording tells buyers: “The estate agent, developer, mortgage broker/lender and online property sites can be useful sources of recommendations for property professionals such as legal representatives or surveyors.
“They may refer you to a company because they recommend the service, and may also receive a payment (known as a referral fee) from the business they have referred you to.
“This is an established way of working, but the estate agent is obliged to tell you about any referral fees up front, allowing you to make an informed decision about which firm to choose.
“Do not feel obliged to take up any referral the estate agent, developer or mortgage broker/ lender makes – it is entirely your choice.
“You should shop around for the best deal for you, although be aware that for mortgages multiple lender inquiries may have an impact on your credit score.
“If you’re in doubt, ask your mortgage provider for more detail about how they carry out credit checks.”
The new wording in the How To Sell guide reads very similarly.