You may have read recently that the Government is potentially planning to amend the rules regarding property sales, such that new players (such as the supermarkets) may be exempted from the Property Misdescriptions Act.
A proposal is due to be put before Parliament in the next session, with the deadline for consultation being August 10th 2012 (after little publicity or attempts to engage the broader property industry).
This issue has arisen as a consequence the OFT report of 2010. This report highlighted suggested collusion and overcharging amongst estate agents. On this basis the OFT's report recommended and encouraged new routes to market.
Back in 2009and 2010 GPEA met with the Commissioner responsiblefor producing this report and made our representations (including why the conclusions were erroneous and potentially misleading / damaging). However the report had already been submitted and we now, I believe, are beginning to understand the consequences of these recommendations.
The OFT’s primary defence, when challenged, was that they had sought input from over 12,000 agents by writing to them directly. Unfortunately less than 1,000 offices responded to this direct approach. It is my sense that only now is the industry beginning to fully appreciate the implication of the government's proposed actions.
We consider that the current proposal would be a significant backward step for the industry (in terms of service). It would, I suggest, be fundamentally unfair to apply a different regulatory regime to competing businesses offering services to the same consumers. I understand that the NAEA, in conjunction with other leading players in the industry, have already made representations but with little success - so it is clearly time that we intervene directly in our own interests.
I intend to write to the Assistant Director of the Department for Business, Innovations and Skills proposing that the consultation deadline be extended. This extension provided the industry with the opportuniy to provide a full and considered response to the consultation. I have also written to Grant Shapps (Minister of State For Housing and Local Planning) in an attempt to secure a meeting. This is an unwelcome distraction during a challenging economic climate. Therefore I would encourage you to let me have your input on this consultation process so I can include any comments from the network within my response.