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Estate agent or private sales site? That is the question

25th September 2012

For many home buyers and sellers, as well as paying the essential fees for residential conveyancing solicitor services, they will also have to pay estate agent fees, and some have tried to minimise their house-sale costs by selling and buying privately.

As a result, a number of websites have appeared on the internet which will advertise property for sale and ‘matchmake’ the buyers and sellers in their private transactions for a small fee, removing the need to pay the more expensive estate agent fees.

At present, only estate agents have a legal responsibility to ensure the accuracy of their sales descriptions, but some property listing websites have been treated as estate agents under the law and this is now set to change, as the new plans will see different rules for the very different business models.

Peter Bolton King, of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said, “These [planned changes] mean that prospective homebuyers and sellers will find it harder to distinguish between intermediaries and traditional estate agents.

“Consumers could, perhaps unknowingly, be left responsible for undertaking their own detailed sale negotiations without the advice and guidance of a property professional.

“This could lead to delays, increased costs and even sales falling through, causing frustration and stress for all involved.”

Residential conveyancing solicitors suggest that prospective buyers should remain vigilant about the type of property sales business they are dealing with and, if they have any doubts about aspects of a property transaction, consult their solicitor at their earliest opportunity.

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