A second investigation into an alleged estate agent cartel in the UK is to go ahead, it has been revealed.
In February this year the Competition and Markets Authority said it was looking into a second potential case of market rigging similar to the one uncovered in Burnham-on-Sea in 2015.
Although at an early stage, the CMA had given itself until today to decide whether to continue with the investigation, which has now been given the green light to continue.
The CMA’s investigators have been busy information gathering including formal and informal information requests and reviewing parties’ responses.
This will conclude in February next year, it has been estimated by the CMA’s four-strong investigation team.
It has so far not revealed who is involved or where in the country the alleged anti-competitive behaviour has been taking place.
Whoever is involved will be looking with some trepidation at the results of the Burnham case. It impacted four local estate agents who were fined a total of £372,233 by the CMA.
These were Gary Berryman Estate Agents Ltd (and its parent company Warne Investments Limited), Abbott and Frost Limited, Greenslade Taylor Hunt and West Coast Property Services (UK). All four were found to have colluded together to set minimum commission rates for residential sales at 1.5%.
After the investigation went public, two senior staff at Abbot and Frost were disqualified from being company directors for three years. And as we reported in July, a senior member of the Greenslade Taylor Hunt team, Jeremy Bell, was expelled from RICS after it conducted an internal inquiry into the affair.