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Estate agent decision delayed

20 June 2004
The government's decision to delay its response to the Office of Fair Trading's report on estate agents has been seen as a sign that action may be imminent.

The decision, due on Saturday June 20th has been postponed and Which? believes it means the government has taken note of the strong demand for regulatory change, and is about to make the necessary changes.

There have been continued calls for decisive action in the interest of consumers and a crack down on the rogue element, which still remains in the estate agency sector.

The head of Which? campaigns, Nick Stace, said: "Home-movers are at a great disadvantage as there is little transparency in the home buying and selling process."

He added: "Weak regulation is failing consumers and does very little to address the problems and promote transparency. Presently there is little to discourage rogue agents from bad practice."

The missed deadline comes as Which? sets out the case for recommending classical regulation as the best way of tackling dodgy agents.

Classical regulation would provide homebuyers with the best form of protection and, if implemented, the industry would be legally bound to provide clear information on what is, and what is not acceptable practice

The proposed model would let consumers know which estate agents had broken the law and what disciplinary procedures had been taken against them. Under the current system such information is not available.

Mr Stace concluded by saying: "Which? has provided strong evidence to support the case for classic regulation and is again encouraging the government to act in the publics' interest."

Which? also sets out the various options for regulation, including self-regulation, co-regulation, classical regulation, functional regulation and deregulation. In April Which? called on the government to reject the OFT's report.