More than half of those who bought, sold or rented a home in the last five years in Britain had issues with their estate or letting agent, new research has found.
However, the majority didn’t check if their agent was regulated or part of a professional body before signing the contract, according to the report from the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).
The two organisations, which have created the Propertymark branding to highlight which agents are registered, fear that too many people assume all estate agents, letting agents and landlords are regulated
Overall the research found that 54% have faced issues. Some 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.
For 42% of renters it didn’t cross their mind to ask and 14% wrongly assumed all agents were regulated. Of the 55% who faced issues with their property, 57% hadn’t checked if their agent or landlord was indeed covered.
This lead to 38% waiting a long time for any issues with the property to be fixed, 20% struggling to get old items replaced and 12% not getting their full deposits back and not being given a reason why.
Those who did check if their agent was a member of a professional body experienced shorter waiting times when things needed fixing in their property. Some 41% said issues were typically addressed within a week yet only 25% of those who didn’t check had their issues solved within a week.
Some 47% of buyers or sellers checked if their estate agent was regulated before moving ahead with the sale or purchase. As with renters, 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, 53%, encountered issues. Some 19% said there was bad communication, 12% felt as if the agent didn’t care about them and 10% felt pressurised by an agent. On top of this 70% of buyers worried that their sale won’t go through, even after the offer has been accepted.
Concerns over gazumping, and a sense of mistrust between buyers and sellers also plague property sales making some transactions uncomfortable for all involved.
Mark Hayward and David Cox of Propertymark said that 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. Property transactions almost always takes longer than expected, and you may be forced into negotiations mid-way through the process, particularly for buyers,’ they pointed out.
‘Your estate or letting agent should be there to guide you through the process and make it as smooth and pain free as possible. The number of buyers, sellers and renters checking to see if their agent is regulated has improved since 2014, but it’s still worrying that so many people assume all agents are members of a professional body, such as Propertymark, and aren’t considering this when choosing an agent,’ they added.