New OFT guidance issued on definition of estate agents

New OFT guidance issued on definition of estate agents

The government department of Business, Innovation and Skills has issued new guidance, saying that private sales portals do not need to conform to the Estate Agents Act.

The department's updated guidance now reflects changes introduced yesterday via the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.

Exempt businesses will be allowed to provide For Sale boards.

However, if the board contains the intermediary’s own contact details and if the intermediary deals with potential buyers on behalf of the sellers, the exemption “is unlikely to apply”.

Exempt business will also not be obliged to make disclosures, such as any self-interest in a property transaction, and will not have to belong to an ombudsman scheme.

Exempt intermediaries can also only pass on to prospective buyers the information provided by the seller in their advertisement.

In a statement, BIS said that private sales portals “facilitate private sales by allowing the seller to advertise their property and prospective buyers and sellers to communicate with one another without using a third party”.

It said its move follows the “OFT study into home buying and selling when we said that we believe that the best way to tackle the lack of price competition is through promoting and encouraging new business models”.

The new guidance continues to list letting agents as also being exempt from estate agency obligations.

The OFT’s updated guidance is at the link below.

Yesterday also saw another landmark for the industry – the repeal of the Property Misdescriptions Act came into force. The PMA is replaced by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Regulations 2008 (CPRS).