Committee explores chief obstacles to stress-free home buying and selling

The cross-party Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee (LUHCC), chaired by Clive Betts, MP, is gathering evidence on the stumbling blocks to improvements, and has highlighted a lack of transparency around conveyancing services, ‘referral fees’, and the regulation of estate agents as key areas of focus. Propertymark has submitted written evidence to the LUHCC and our Head of Policy and Campaigns, Timothy Douglas, spoke to the Committee in person on 13 May 2024.

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Universal support for Regulation of Property Agents

Douglas and the other members of the panel all spoke strongly in support of regulation as a essential step towards improving the buying and selling process and also to contribute to the implementation of other measures including renters and leasehold reform. 

Without effective regulation, consumers have little guarantee that an agent will provide a quality service, especially if the agent has not signed up to higher standards through voluntary professional bodies.

Setting minimum qualification requirements to enter the industry, and mandating continuing professional development for practising agents, will ensure that new entrants have the appropriate knowledge to carry out the home buying and selling process effectively and maintain up-to-date skills throughout their career.

Additionally, through a universal Code of Practice and effective redress, poor-quality services can be gradually erased from the sector.

Listen to the LUHCC session on  →

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05 Mar 2024
A step closer to the regulation of property agents

Evidence from the front line

Propertymark’s response to the call for evidence is firmly rooted in evidence gathered for our April 2024 position paper, The Future of Home Buying and Selling. This paper was informed by member discussion groups which explored issues with the current process and potential solutions.

Despite its importance, and notwithstanding the number of transactions taking place each year, home buying and selling in the UK is outdated and inefficient, having seen little improvement over the past few decades.

Compared to countries like Australia, Norway and the USA, our process is slow, with a high proportion of fall-throughs. This isn't just a minor annoyance; failed transactions cost consumers £260 million annually . Within the industry, estate agents and conveyancers also lose £1 billion, and around 4 million working days annually.

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08 Apr 2024
The future of home buying and selling

Set the standard

Many Propertymark members have stated legal and conveyancing firms operate differently and have different expectations of an agent when working with them.

This leads to significant variation in how a property sale is carried out, leading to inefficiencies that slow a transaction down and can ultimately cause fall-throughs.

Joint guidance covering property agents, conveyancers, lenders, and any other stakeholders involved in the process, will help to improve this by setting clear roles and expectations and improving coordination between organisations.

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08 Apr 2024
Propertymark backs the next proptech revolutionaries

The revolution must be digitised

The property sector remains overwhelmingly paper-based (with the average transaction generating 130 documents) and with very little automation in place. Data is often fragmented, and difficult to access, creating unnecessary, time-consuming procedures.

Promoting services to enable all parties to work on documents together and be able to access them in real-time will help permit organisations to collaborate more effectively during the process. 

Key aspects of the work of the Digital Property Market Steering Group, of which Propertymark is a founding member, include developing an action list to remove paper-based processes and see rapid adoption of digital ID and secure e-signatures; a research and development roadmap; and a charter detailing roles and responsibilities across the sector to generate up front information.

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26 Apr 2024
Next steps for Smart Data-driven home buying and selling

Estate agency is the only part of the home buying and selling process that is unregulated. Not only does this disadvantage consumers, it leaves the industry vulnerable to economic crime, with an estimated £6.7bn of dirty money invested in UK property over the last eight years.

For the many good agents operating in the sector, the lack of clear regulation leads to challenges such as the restricted access to pooled client accounts reported by our members, which place added pressures on their business. 

With significant new legislation for both the PRS and leasehold moving through both Houses of Parliament, it has never been more vital that the property professionals who are essential to its implementation are supported to gain the necessary competencies and those who will hinder the raising of standards are prevented from working in the sector. 

The industry wants regulation and consumers need it - the property sector needs the UK Government to summon the political will to make effective change. 

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Timothy Douglas Head of Policy and Campaigns | Propertymark
Download the full consultation response