HomeOwners Alliance boss tells MPs it’s time stamp out sharp practice in estate agency

The DLUHC Committee session on improving the home buying and selling process hears activist Paula Higgins highlighting the lack of regulation and protection.

Levelling Up Housing and Communities Committee.

The Founder and Chief Executive of the HomeOwners Alliance has told MPs it’s time to stamp out sharp practice in estate agency.

Addressing members of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee session on Improving the home buying and selling process HomeOwners Alliance boss Paula Higgins highlighted the lack of certainty in the home buying process and the lack of financial penalties for both buyers and sellers.


And she also shone the spotlight on recent press reports of buyers being coerced into placing non-refundable booking fees to secure a property and the blatant practices of conditional selling – where agents force buyers to use their inhouse mortgage broker – that continue to blight the sector.

Higgins told the committee: “We know what they’re doing is illegal but there’s no enforcement. These types of sharp practice need to be stamped out.”

Maria Harris, Kate Faulkner OBE and Paula Higgins speaking at the Levelling Up Committee.
Maria Harris, Chair, Open Property Data Association, Kate Faulkner OBE, Chair, Home Buying & Selling Group and Paula Higgins, Chief Executive, HomeOwners Alliance.

Higgins was speaking to the committee alongside Kate Faulkner OBE, The Neg columnist and Chair of The Home Buying & Selling Group and Maria Harris, Founder and Chair of the Open Property Data Association.

Faulkner opened the session highlighting the complexities of the home buying process telling chair Clive Betts MP: “Even if you’re looking at a simple purchase there could be 15 companies involved in the process.”


Harris went on to outline how fragmented the buying process can be, adding: “Nothing underpins it and it’s really difficult to get through the process from point A to point B.”

All three later explained the complexities of the home buying covering material information, finance, conveyancing, digitisation and the need to speed up the process.

The committee went on to hear evidence from Maireed Carrol, RICS Senior Property Sepcialist at The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors; Timothy Douglas, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Propertymark and Beth Rudolf, Director of Delivery at The Conveyancing Association.

The Committee’s inquiry into improving the tome buying  and selling process opened on March 25 and is no longer accepting evidence after the deadline for submissions passed on 18 April 2024.

One Comment

  1. Paula Higgins CEO of HOA wants to make the buying of property more transparent, making comment regarding conditional selling, which of course is illigal. But maybe those in greenhouses who have vested interests should not be presenting evidence to the government as it skews the true picture, I refer to the fact that the Home Owners Alliance which is strangely an org, (.org being a top-level domain standing for “organization” and is primarily used for nonprofit websites such as NGOs, open source projects, charitable organizations) but is in fact a limited company whose business model as clearly set out on the HOA.org.uk site is that it makes cash from ‘referral fees.’ I wonder how many people utilising HOA.org.uk who are being pushed towards ‘paying partners’ would feel about not being given whole of the market advice. The second point I would like to make is that agents are in fact heavily regulated, both estate agency and in the letting agency vertical with a number of laws governing their actions. On top of the regulations for running a business in UK, which also is heavily regulated. The rogue element that exists in estate agency has more to do with criminality than lack of regulation, and judging by the amount of solicitors who are struck and jailed and financial advisers etc who turn to crime, though it is luckily a small minority, having more red tape is unlikely to deter these people.

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