More estate agencies reporting clients over suspicious activity

Despite the rise, only a tiny fraction of agents are submitting SARs despite HM Treasury and the Home Office saying the sector is at ‘medium’ risk of money laundering.

aml warning

Estate agents recorded 15% more AML-based Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) in 2021/22 compared to the previous year, new analysis from risk platform Thirdfort reveals.

The research, which combines Know Your Client (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Source-of-Funds (SoF) verification, shows the total number of SARs submitted by estate agents increased from 948 in 2020/2021 to 1094 in 2021/2022.


But analysis of National Crime Agency figures shows that estate agents submitted just 0.1% of the total numbers of SARs from across all sectors.

Defence against money laundering chartBanks submitted the most SARs across 2020/2021 and 2021/2022, registering nearly 600,000 and 700,000 respectively. Overall, some 50 sectors submitted 1.8 million SARs across the two periods.

With data from the Office for National Statistics reporting 22,145 estate agencies in the UK this means that just a tiny fraction of agents are submitting SARs.

This low SAR submission comes even though HM Treasury and the Home Office assessed estate agents at ‘medium’ risk for money laundering.


Harriet Holmes, AML Services Manager at Thirdfort, says: “Estate agents are at an increased risk of money laundering, but just a fraction are submitting SARs.

Harriet Holmes Thirdfort image
Harriet Holmes, Thirdfort

“As such, there may be some underreporting in the sector. There may be several reasons, from a lack of adequate information, the client relationship, to agents not appreciating the SARs process.

“But, whatever the reason, agents must recognise regulators are more focused on SARs than they used to be.”

And she adds: “Agents should take a thorough approach to their anti-money laundering obligations and encourage employees to engage with the compliance process and raise issues when they spot them.

“Taking a more proactive approach to AML will enable agents to stay on the right side of the regulations far beyond SARs submission alone.”

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