We don’t charge a fortune!

How do estate agents’ have the cheek to charge a king’s ransom for selling a house?

That’s not EAT asking the question – it’s the BBC.

And the BBC has the answer: sign up to a private sale website, take a few photos, and bang in the For Sale sign. It will cost you between £300 and £600 – a massive saving.

Furthermore, pay the private sales website a higher rate and your property details will be “advertised on the big portals like Rightmove and Zoopla”.

In a piece by financial reporter Brian Milligan (Selling your own house: Could it save you a fortune), estate agents are apparently “having to defend their reputations like never before”.

The story points to a change in the law, due later this year, when ‘passive’ intermediaries – ie, sites that in theory do little more than list properties – will be able to operate outside the Estate Agents Act.

The story predictably provoked masses of comments. Less predictably, perhaps, some of the comments are actually pro-agent: agents deal with the dreaded chains and they don’t just say “this is the kitchen” but negotiate.

Of course, there are some anti-agent comments including: “Estate agents will soon go the same way as record, CD, camera and DVD shops. The sooner the better. Estate agents were the epitome of everything that was wrong with the 80s and 90s.”

The fact is that the forthcoming deregulation of the industry – if indeed that is what it is – will all be about some rather crucial detail.

While it is proposed that the new business models will not have to worry about the Estate Agents Act, it does appear that under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations replacing the Property Misdescriptions Act, the duty not to mislead will extend as much to online sites as to the high street.

That duty means not just making sure descriptions are accurate, but not making omissions. The OFT guidance specifically includes not just agents and developers but also “intermediate websites that facilitate contact between buyers and sellers”.

The BBC story (and comments) are here.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22123316.

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