Estate agents are pressuring too many buyers and sellers into using their in-house services to source mortgages, conveyancing, surveys, insurance and EPCs, it is claimed.
Campaigning organisation the HomeOwners Alliance surveyed 2,000 buyers and sellers and found that 55% had felt under pressure to buy a mortgage through the estate agent handling the sale, while 49% felt obliged to buy conveyancing services through them.
The figure for surveys was slight better at 41% of buyers and sellers, life insurance at 28%, EPC certificates at 17% and home insurance at 12%.
The Homeowners Alliance also says their research shows 25% of all sellers and buyers felt under pressure to use an agent’s in-house services of one kind or another, which the organisation claims indicates some 300,000 people every year, based in industry figures.
“It’s not good if buyers and sellers feel under pressure to use an estate agent’s services because they are led to believe doing so will put them in a better position for securing their dream home or get them a preferential treatment by the estate agent,” says its Chief Executive Paula Higgins (pictured, left).
“They should be encouraged to shop around to find the best deal.”
“Any estate agent that favours buyers who use in house services are doing a disservice to their client – the seller – as well. Sellers can also lose out because estate agents have an incentive to sell a property to a buyer who is taking out a mortgage or life insurance with them rather than one that isn’t.”
In March this year the Homeowners Alliance called for the government to ban agents from selling services or products to both parties in property transactions they handle, claiming it is a “clear conflict of interest”.
It also claims that, although The Property Ombudsman requires member agents to declare their referral fees, “there is little evidence of this happening”.