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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.

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
  • Two thirds (65%) 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 65% 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.


Leave a comment (4)* Required

  1. BilalBilal

    I am a strong proponent of estate agents being regulated, almost in a similar manner as they are in Canada where you have to qualify for a state license to deal in properties.

    Currently, in the UK, estate agents have way too much power and almost operate under a “free-for-all” mentality. My own personal experiences have been terrible for more than one reason. I just do not trust them. I guess i can say the same about the political elite but that is an entirely different topic.

    Just to share one of my experiences with “them”. I was desperately looking for a flat to rent a few years ago and after finding a decent property, i contacted the estate agent responsible and shortly thereafter I was called for a viewing. In short, i liked it and wanted to put down a deposit. I wanted to give it to the landlord directly who, i was told by the estate agent, is ok with him putting in a deposit scheme. I was assured by the estate agent that my deposit was secure and i can track it on the website – which I never found. After i moved in, the landlord started to call and harass me and said that he never got the deposit and he had stop dealing with the estate agent and wanted me to get it back from them. When i called the estate agent, he reassured me that all is well and he will return the deposit within a week. It took me 4 months to get it back after numerous messages and reassurances by the estate agent. This included plenty of sleepless nights as the landlord was already looking to evict me and had posted the advert for the place on gumtree. I took time off from work, to go and see the estate agent during office hours and was told he was out. His colleagues also seemed very evasive. I can only conclude that the estate agent used my deposit for something and only gave it back once he had someone else’s deposit i guess. Many people told me to contact council or get a solicitor but i asked why? Why does anybody looking for a property through an estate agent needs to go through all of that? If they are regulated and have to abide by a law then all this can be avoided. Private landlords are a hassle on their own, why must we be subjected to these situations through estate agents as well?

    • Sara HindSara Hind

      Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience. Your landlord must put your deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) if you rent your home on an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007. Usually landlords will use a letting agent to manage all of this and a number of other legal obligations for them. When you leave the property the letting agent will arrange for the deposit to be released – and provided there’s no issues to be resolved, you should expect your deposit to be released within 10 days. If the landlord had stopped using that particular agent, the agent should have arranged for your deposit to be transferred to the scheme the landlord had registered with (or his new agent). The deposits are not held by the agent, but in a protected scheme.

  2. John HarveyJohn Harvey

    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.

  3. Mrs. M. LentonMrs. M. Lenton

    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.

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