Referral fees are where an estate agent receives a commission, payment, fee, reward/gift or another benefit from a third-party service provider for recommending them to the buyer or seller.

Making referral fees transparent, NTSELAT guidance

In February 2019, the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) published guidance on referral fees received by estate agents across the UK. They aim to ensure that referral fees become more open and transparent to consumers.

We helped to produce the guidace along with The Property Ombudsman (TPO) and other industry bodies. NTSELAT will now monitor the market and report to Ministers on agents' compliance with the guidance.

NTSELAT referral fees guidance

In February 2019, the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) published guidance on referral fees received by estate agents across the UK.

NTSELAT has given the industry an olive branch. Rather than an outright ban, we’ve been given the opportunity to improve the practice of charging referral fees by increasing transparency. However, if the guidance isn’t taken seriously then referral fees could be banned when the guidance is reviewed next year.

We’ve long called for guidance which is easy for both agents and consumers to understand and comply with. Buying a home is no mean feat, it’s probably the most expensive type of transaction we engage in—so transparent and fair fees are essential. It’s important all agents take the time to understand the guidance and ensure they are compliant.

Mark Hayward Chief Policy Advisor | Propertymark

What estate agents need to do:

  • In the interest of fairness, information on referral fees must be provided to buyers and sellers in advance of them making any transaction-based decision.
  • Make referral fees clear on property particulars online and offline. Be bold, compelling, specific and include who you receive referral fees from and the value of each referral.
  • Act in the consumer's best interest by ensuring that both buyers and sellers can make an informed decision.
  • Outline where a referral arrangement exists, that it exists and with whom.
  • Inform the consumer well in advance of offering the choice as to whether to use a recommended service provider.
  • Provide the information to consumers in writing and tell them they can also source and use different providers.
18 Dec 2017
Improving the home buying and selling process

We have responded to the Government's call for evidence providing our views on how to make the process of home buying and selling cheaper, faster and less stressful.

Related news and resources

19 Nov 2020
The future of referral fees - your questions answered

James Munro, Head of the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT), shed some light on their recent report to Government on referral fees and what the future holds in a Propertymark webinar, highlighting all agents should be following the guidance.

01 Oct 2020
Referral fees to be totally transparent

Following a review, which lasted over a year, the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) has, today 2 October, proposed that new legislation be introduced so that all customers must be told about third party referral fees when buying or selling a home. This is to improve transparency across the sector and ensure consumers feel confident in the services agents provide.

21 Oct 2019
Are you transparent on referral fees?

National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) issued Guidance in early 2019 on Transparency of Fees Involving Property Sales. It aims to ensure that consumers are equipped with all relevant information before making a transactional decision.