Despite receiving a largely clean bill of health from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), the year-long study found that a third of all sellers were unhappy with the level of their estate agents’ fees. In fact, the study found that haggling over commission could negotiate down from 1.8% of the selling price to 1.4%, saving £800 on the sale of a £200,000 home, yet, only 30% of house sellers shop around among estate agents or negotiate on fees. The total extra paid during 2007 by those who failed to negotiate fees amounted to an extra £570 million going to the estate agents.
However, this revelation did not draw any criticism from the estate agents themselves; what did cause them dissatisfaction was their belief that the report missed out on an opportunity to set out a plan for ‘robust’ protection for buyers and sellers. As Trevor Kent, a former president of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) so eloquently put it: “a poodle clipper today can be an estate agent tomorrow.”
The OFT felt that existing legislation relating to traditional estate agents was “comprehensive and wide-ranging, and that further regulation was unnecessary” given that, in recent years, people had become happier with the service provided.
In 2007, the UK estate agency market was estimated to be worth £6.7 billion, which came from roughly 1.6 million transactions; it is difficult to quantify the current worth of the market due to the slump of the housing market since then.