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Last Updated: Monday, 4 December 2006, 10:02 GMT
Estate agencies still distrusted
Browsing an estate agent's window
People have little trust in estate agents, a survey confirms
Estate agents are regarded as dishonest by the vast majority of adults who have bought a home, suggests the consumers association Which?

Its survey of 1,568 people found that 94% thought estate agents deliberately overvalued properties and 70% believed they invented false offers.

The survey findings coincide with a second vote in the House of Lords on a Bill to regulate estate agencies.

It will ban estate agents that refuse to join an approved ombudsman scheme.

Only about 60% of estate agents are members of the current complaints scheme run by the Ombudsman for Estate Agents.

The Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Bill will make membership of such a scheme compulsory throughout the UK.

Not professional?

The findings of the Which? survey confirmed the traditionally low esteem in which people hold estate agents.

The internet has given birth to a wealth of private sales sites which could do away with the need for an estate agent altogether
Louise Restell, Which?

Amongst the findings, about 85% of respondents thought agents were likely to refer clients to financial advisers with whom they had a link.

And 70% thought they often made up false details of the properties they were selling.

As a result, only politicians were thought less trustworthy by Which?'s respondents, far behind professionals such as doctors, teachers and lawyers.

With the development and spread of the internet, more people are going online to sell their homes in an attempt to cut out estate agents and save money.

Louise Restell of Which? said about 10% of people had not used an agent the last time they bought or sold a property.

"The internet has given birth to a wealth of private sales sites which could do away with the need for an estate agent altogether," she said.

"This could be the future for many home-movers," she added.

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