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82% of UK adults support government plans for estate agent regulation

With the Government announcing at the weekend plans to improve the home buying and selling process, our annual HomeOwner Survey, sponsored by BLP Insurance and polled by YouGov, looks at whether homeowners and sellers agree with some of the Government's ideas.

April 9, 2018

estate agents

  • 2018 Homeowner Survey finds four fifths (82%) of UK adults support the idea of a government backed license for estate agents
  • 80% would like to see buyers show proof of funds before being able to put in an offer to buy a property
  • Three quarters (75%) of UK adults support the idea of a reservation agreement requiring buyers and sellers to put down a non-refundable deposit to commit both sides earlier in the process
  • HomeOwners Alliance has been campaigning tirelessly for stronger regulation of estate agents and the introduction of reservation agreements

A massive 82% of UK adults back government proposals requiring estate agents to be licensed, according to a new study.

The 2018 Homeowners Survey, an annual study conducted by the HomeOwners Alliance and BLP Insurance and polled by YouGov, to examine the concerns, views, and issues affecting British homeowners and aspiring homeowners, found that the vast majority of respondents (82%) support the idea of a government-backed license requiring estate agents to pass standardised tests before being able to practice.

The study also found 80% of UK adults are in favour of buyers being required to prove they have necessary funds to buy the property before putting in an offer, while 75% back the introduction of a reservation agreement which requires buyers and sellers to put down a non-refundable deposit to commit both sides earlier in the process and increase the certainty that the sale will go through and at the price agreed.

The Government ‘s plans

The survey results (polled on 5 April 2018) fully support the government’s announcements to professionalise the estate agent market through licensing of estate agents and the pilot of voluntary reservation agreements. Estate agents will also be required to be transparent about the fees they receive for referring clients to solicitors, surveyors and mortgage brokers.

Other measures announced by government to make the system easier, faster and more transparent include:

  • encouraging the use of voluntary reservation agreements to help prevent sales falling through and crack down on gazumping
  • setting a timeline for local authority searches so buyers get the information they need within 10 days
  • requiring managing agents and freeholders to provide up-to-date lease information for a set fee and to an agreed timetable which will end the current situation where leaseholders are at the mercy of freeholders and their agents
  • strengthening the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team so they can carry out more enforcement activity which includes banning agents

Commenting on the findings, Paula Higgins, Chief Executive of HomeOwners Alliance says:

“These figures mirror what we hear repeatedly from our members. Estate agents are an essential part of the home buying and selling process, but unfortunately, a number of those operating within the sector have a cavalier approach when it comes to good practice. Sellers are trusting agents with their most expensive asset, and too many are receiving shoddy service. By professionalising the industry, the government will give buyers and sellers greater peace of mind, and better practice.”

On proposals to introduce a reservation agreement Higgins adds:

It’s no surprise that the public support the idea of a reservation agreement – something we have been campaigning for tirelessly. An agreement between both parties should help to eliminate time wasters and prevent the heartache – and cost – caused by gazumping and gazundering. The government’s willingness to trial this idea shows that they are listening to the consumer and not the vested interests of the property industry who seem to think the current system is working just fine.”

Kim Vernau, Chief Executive of BLP Insurance says:

“Yesterday’s announcement from the government is a welcome first step towards improving the house purchasing process for consumers. As is evidenced by the results of the 2018 Homeowners Survey, consumers wish to see improvements across the selling and purchasing process. The use of voluntary reservation agreements to prevent sales falling through and a crackdown on gazumping will serve to ease the stress that purchasers have to endure. Clarifying the forms of redress available to purchasers post sale would also support purchasers in resolving issues swiftly and effectively.”    

Response to Proposals to Improve Home Buying/ Selling Process: 2018 Homeowner Survey

Notes to Editor

2018 Homeowner Survey

  1. This is the 6th Annual Homeowner Survey, a state of the nation report on the housing concerns and trends affecting homeowners and those aspiring to own.
  2. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+). Total sample size was 2,110 adults of which 1301 were Homeowners. Fieldwork was undertaken 5th- – 6th April, 2018.
  3. The 2018 Homeowner survey was made possible through sponsorship by BLP Insurance, leading provider of housing warranty insurance.


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  1. It is interesting to note that while the government research on which proposals are based shows the public far more concerned with delay attributed to solicitors than estate agents, it is headlining on reform of the latter.

    This must not be a smokescreen for a balanced view.

    Comment by John Harvey — April 14, 2018 @ 9:04 am

  2. Very interesting . thank you. I have a problem with a couple who have rented my flat for ten years. Sadly the wife died. A son from her previous marriage had moved in. I now have a tenant, by agreement, and another man who is not covered by the contract.

    Comment by Mrs. M. Lenton — April 13, 2018 @ 9:09 pm

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