The Government looks set to encourage more 'for sale by owner' property portal websites, to introduce greater competition in the estate agency market.
The announcement was made in response to a market study report on Home Buying and Selling carried out by the OFT last year, which concluded more business models need to enter the estate agency market, including more 'for sale by owner' websites.
Local property agent Sutton Kersh has been operating in the Liverpool estate agency market for over 35 years. They disagree with the view of the Government and OFT, reporting that it would not be in the interest of consumers to encourage more vendors to sell their properties independently due to a lack of consumer protection.
The Government argues that by increasing the number of business models, consumers will have greater choice and will be able to make their own informed decision between a bespoke estate agency driven approach with greater protection from the Estate Agency Act, and a stripped down passive approach with reduced protection.
Alex Dixon (FNAEA), company director and branch manager of Sutton Kersh's Allerton & South Liverpool office comments; “For most consumers, their property is the most valuable asset they have. Clients using a regulated estate agent are covered by the Estate Agents Act, the agents Professional Indemnity Insurance and have peace of mind that they are acting on sound professional advice.
“As a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), the Property Ombudsman and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), Sutton Kersh is a professional organisation with a thorough understanding of the industry. We possess up-to-date knowledge of legislation and market trends, thus enabling us to accurately advise every client to minimise risk whilst maximising their returns on investment.
“Becoming a Chartered Surveyor takes many years of training. Selling houses is something we do every day. To suggest that just anyone can sell property makes a mockery of the industry and is very irresponsible. At a time when most people's finances are very much in the balance, it is crazy to suggest that they take such risks with their most valuable asset.
“There is a lot more to buying or selling a property than just putting a for sale board up, and advertising it in the local press and on property websites. It is a time consuming process that requires the expertise of a professional to ensure the transaction runs smoothly. Estate agents have been used by people to sell their properties for many decades. Just because a new marketing medium has developed in the form of digital that enables people to market their property to a broader consumer audience, does not mean that all other tasks associated with buying and selling property have been eliminated. When the majority of people are selling a property, they are also juggling this with finding a new place to live, full time employment and family life. There just aren't enough hours in the day for people to be able to do this, and the high levels of risk associated with 'going it alone' are incredibly high and totally avoidable.”
Sutton Kersh currently has over 1200 residential properties registered for sale in Liverpool across its six branches demonstrating the high levels of demand that still exist for estate agents in this area. Whilst it is reported by Hitwise that over 80% of homebuyers now commence their search for property online, it would seem that the trend of selling properties is still very much with the professionals.