Survey Reveals Lack of Confidence in UK Property System (91% would use a "Buyers' Agent")
Written by Tim Hammond
Friday, 20 March 2009
A recent survey commissioned by the Association of Property Finders and Buyers Agents (APFBA) highlights a requirement for more clarity in the role of UK estate agents when dealing with both sellers and buyers to avoid conflicts of interest. It also suggests that the need for buyers to be represented properly has never been so apparent if confidence is to be restored. Over 2000 people were questioned between November 2008 and March 2009. Worryingly, two thirds of buyers questioned believe that estate agents work for both buyer and seller. On being reminded that estate agents are generally paid to represent the best interests of the seller, 89% of buyers accepted that a conflict of interest exists where an agent deals with both buyer and seller in the same transaction. Indeed, some 86% of those questioned said that they would get a fairer deal if they had a professional to represent them, and 91% would use a buyers' agent if this would save them time, stress and money. Another factor for the current lack of homebuyer confidence is the issue regarding property valuations. Prospective buyers have little or no way of gauging what real property values are at the moment and most don't trust the estate agent's valuations as these have been proved consistently wrong as prices have kept falling.
In fact 82% thought that the asking prices set by estate agents were not a good indication of actual value. The survey also showed that 75% of buyers prefer use the internet as their primary search method. With portals such as Rightmove, Globrix and Property Live providing access to every property listing in the UK it seems that the UK is moving towards a similar model as the US and Australia.
There, estate agents work as ‘listing agents' for the vendor, uploading their listings to the Multi-Listing Service (MLS), or in other words the internet portals, and buyers' agents are employed by the buyer to help find, advise, evaluate and negotiate on the property purchase. "In the US, well over 50% of the population use a buyers agent to assist in the home buying process, says Tim Hammond, chief executive of the APFBA.
Regulations have long been in place there to protect the buyer and eliminate the conflict of interest, which exists when one firm attempts to represent both buyer and seller in the same transaction. For UK homebuyers there are no such regulations and estate agents have been free to act as the intermediary between vendors and buyers." "We believe that a greater awareness of the role of Buyer Agents and better clarity of the role of estate agents will help create a more stable UK property market and restore homebuyer confidence.
We are currently experiencing a surge of enquiries for APFBA membership from former estate agents keen to use their local knowledge and experience to the benefit of their buying clients. The APFBA insists that their adhere to a strict code of practice when working exclusively for property buyers and is currently working towards delivering accredited training for its members which will distinguish them as a Certified Exclusive Buyer Agents, giving homebuyers peace of mind.
" One industry pundit, Richard Rawlings, a well-known estate agency trainer and marketing expert recognises that buyer agency is the next chapter in estate agency and is a founding Director of Homebuyers' Agency which is currently recruiting up to 400 franchisees and consultants to represent the best interests of homebuyers around the UK. He said, "there is certainly more risk involved in buying a property than there is in selling one, and the APFBA's survey clearly shows that the time is right for the British public to be properly represented in the transaction."
Ends For Further Information Full details and results of the APFBA Homebuyer survey can be found on the APFBA website at; http://apfba.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=103&Itemid=98 Tim Hammond, CEO of the Association of Property Finders and Buyers Agents can be contacted on 0207 112 1570. www.apfba.org