HomeOwners Alliance challenged to display its own referral fees on website

The HomeOwners Alliance has been embroiled in a public dispute on Twitter after the Government announced that estate agents must in future disclose referral fees.

Henry Pryor and others raised concerns, saying that the HOA is part-owned by ULS Technology “& whose income I believe is based on fees from conveyancing referrals”.

The HOA tweeted back: “Yes we get a referral fee for conveyancing if u use one of our panel of 150 firms. We support referrals. But point is EAS shouldn’t push services to buyers & sellers in same chain as a conflict of interest. Consumers need to be able to shop around.”

Pryor replied: “It’s not a problem that you are paid but the fact you are and by whom ought to be on your website.”

He also asked how many home owners paying £45 a year did HOA represent.

Another person, Arthur House, asked HOA if it could vouch for the quality of all 150 firms.

Pryor has asked: “Everyone needs to earn a living but Govt. is keen people earning referral fees should be clear & upfront about it. Your website is pretty opaque about who pays you & for what. Perhaps you should be more upfront?

“How many members do you have? Who pays you? How much?”

However, he did not appear to get responses.

The exchanges happened as HOA claimed that 82% of UK adults support the idea of licensing for estate agents.

It said the poll – an annual survey sponsored by BLP Insurance – shows 75% support the idea of a reservation agreement where buyers and sellers put down non-refundable deposits.

HOA said the significance of its findings was that this year’s survey was conducted in the week before the Government announcements.

The poll, conducted on April 5, also showed that 80% of UK adults are in favour of buyers having to prove they have the funds to buy the property.

Chief executive of HOA Paula Higgins said: “These figures mirror what we hear repeatedly from our members.

“Estate agents are an essential part of the home buying and selling process, but unfortunately, a number of those operating within the sector have a cavalier approach when it comes to good practice.

“Sellers are trusting agents with their most expensive asset, and too many are receiving shoddy service.

“By professionalising the industry, the Government will give buyers and sellers greater peace of mind, and better practice.”

She added: “It’s no surprise that the public support the idea of a reservation agreement – something we have been campaigning for tirelessly.

“The Government’s willingness to trial this idea shows that they are listening to the consumer and not the vested interests of the property industry who seem to think the current system is working just fine.”

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4 Comments

  1. ArthurHouse02

    The problem with the estate agent bashing alliance is they are not involved in our industry they are just here to profit off the back of it. The issue or problem with referral fees (in my opinion) are not that the agent gets paid but making sure that the agent or perhaps company is referring to said solicitor/conveyancer because they are a good quality firm, not just because they pay the highest referral.

    HOA have a panel of 150 solicitors, there is no way that they can vouch for the quality of all of them, perhaps even any of them. As agents we deal with solicitors from the start of the process to the end, we know who is good and who is not. HOA dont do this so have no idea.

    Lastly a referral fee should be earned. If you are referring as an agent we should be discussing the value of the solicitor with the potential client, recommending them on the basis that they will make the buyer or sellers move a lot easier. Just showing a buyer 150 quotes (in my opinion) does not deserve a referarl fee.

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  2. Peter Ambrose (The Partnership)

    ArthurHouse2 you are absolutely 100% correct.

    Paying for a good, qualified lead is absolutely justifiable – it is a sales and marketing cost which is completely legitimate.

    The issue, as raised in this case is whether it is appropriate. For example, if a consumer uses HOA to select a lawyer to sell a £500K flat, their panel manager will take a fee of £245 for handling that quote that can end up at any number of firms.  In terms of “qualified” (word of the moment!)  many on their list do not have any ratings of any sort (understandable but how can consumers make an informed choice).

    We have always said that agents are the best judges of which lawyers are performing well because they are in the front line.

    It really IS all about the quality of service when it comes to both lawyer and agent…

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  3. JAM01

    It is not hard. I took the NAEA Level 3 qualification via MOL distance learning n 2004. 4 units. 4 multi choice tests. Good basic knowledge. Simples.

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  4. smile please

    Dang that’s twice i think i have agreed with HP in 10 years!

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