Do Estate Agents Have a Duty to Educate Buyers?

With many people entering the property market unsure of the purchasing process, it is perhaps time to ask whether estate agents have a duty to educate buyers? Research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)...

With many people entering the property market unsure of the purchasing process, it is perhaps time to ask whether estate agents have a duty to educate buyers? Research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recently showed that many people are being faced with unnecessary costs, simply because they don't know the first thing about buying a home.This can total an average of GBP 5,750 in repair bills alone, as a result of not having a survey conducted prior to purchase.

RICS claim 80 per cent of people believe compulsory regulation of estate agents would solve this problem, placing the onus on them to improve consumer understanding. With almost a third of first-time buyers admitting they don't have a good grasp of the purchase process and 30 per cent stating their agents failed to advise them on their transaction, action certainly needs to be taken.

There is currently no statutory regulation in place to ensure agents are qualified to sell property. Agents that do not belong to a professional body aren't obliged to meet minimum competency standards and are unregulated. Consequently, people could be dealing with an agent that is giving inaccurate advice.

RICS maintains that more needs to be done to ensure estate agents know what they are doing when selling a property. This will ensure clients have the proper advice and prevent many from being lumbered with a property they are unhappy with.

Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, commented: "When making the biggest purchase of their lives, it’s important that buyers – and especially those who haven’t been through the purchase process before – understand precisely what is involved. This is particularly relevant now, with the market now seemingly over the very worst and more first time buyers a position to make a move."

Research has shown that 93 per cent of first-time buyers want agents to meet a minimum competency standard. Twenty-three per cent claim their agent didn't demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the sales process, while 53 per cent admitted their agent didn't make them aware of the difference between a survey, appraisal and valuation.

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- Friday 10 May 2013

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