Estate agents should be licensed across the board

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AN organisation that ensures house buying and selling standards are maintained in Portsmouth is calling for compulsory licensing of the industry.

Portsmouth Property Association wants to see estate agents formally regulated, protecting buyers and sellers from sharp practices and creating a culture of trust.

Amendments to The Estate Agents Act 1979 (EAA), currently before parliament, would remove restrictions on internet agents who allow vendors to advertise directly online to the public.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills argues the cut in red tape will encourage more choice and put pressure on estate agents to lower their fees.

Steve Sprake, director of PPA member Pearsons estate agents, said: ‘People selling and buying houses through traditional means – nearly nine of 10 buyers in the UK – can be assured that they get consumer protection as estate agents are principally regulated by the EAA and the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991. This does not appear to be the case with internet agents, so consumers may well find themselves with inadequate protection if things go wrong, especially as BIS is recommending the PMA be repealed.

‘It’s now time to bring in formal regulation in Britain’s estate agency sector, effectively creating a hallmark of trust and removing any opportunities for sharp practices by unscrupulous elements.’