Estate or letting agents caused problems for more than half of those consumers who bought, sold or rented a home within the last five years, it has been claimed.
However, the majority didn’t check if their agent was regulated or part of a professional body before signing the contract.
That’s according to new research from Propertymark, which found that a “worrying number” of Brits assume all estate agents, letting agents and landlords are regulated.
Propertymark said that of those consumers who experienced problems with their agent, 37% of buyers and sellers, and 42% of renters, didn’t consider whether their agent was part of a professional body such as Propertymark before progressing with their transaction.
One in six renters wrongly assumed all agents were regulated. Of the 55% who faced issues with their property, more than half (57%) hadn’t checked if their agent or landlord was indeed covered, leading to issues such as:
- Waiting a long time for any issues with the property to be fixed (38%)
- Struggling to get old items replaced (20%)
- Not getting their full deposits back – and not being given a reason why (12%)
Those who did check if their agent was a member of a professional body enjoyed shorter waiting times when things needed fixing in their property. For 41% of those people, issues were typically addressed within a week. By contrast, only 25% of those who didn’t check had their issues solved within a week.
Less than half (47%) of buyers or sellers checked if their estate agent was regulated before moving ahead with the sale or purchase. As with renters, a third (37%) didn’t think about it, while 14% prioritised the property and went with the agent because they were attached to the home they wanted to buy.
More than half of buyers and sellers (53%) encountered issues such as bad communication (19%), feeling as if the agent didn’t care about them (12%) and feeling pressurised (10%).
On top of this, 70% of buyers worry that their sale won’t go through, even after the offer has been accepted, which – according to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government – costs buyers between £695 and £744 and sellers £582 to £740.
Mark Hayward and David Cox of Propertymark said: “Choosing a property, whether it’s to buy or rent, is a huge financial commitment and can be overwhelming, especially for first-timers. We almost always go with the agent attached to a property if we’re buying or renting, but it’s important to at least ask the question.
“It’s really important consumers look for the ‘Propertymark Protected’ logo when choosing an agent.
“It means they’re dealing with a professional who has opted for regulation in an unregulated sector and it will give them peace of mind that their money is protected.”