Estate agents should have to disclose the actual amount of any referral fees they receive at the very outset, says the Law Society.
The body does not call for a ban on referral fees, but is clearly not against one, saying: “If referral fees for conveyancing services were banned there could be scope for better service standards.”
The Law Society says that agents should also make it clear from the start to purchasers that they act for the seller and not the buyer; and give information to buyers as to how they can complain.
The body has made the points in its response to the Government call for evidence on how to improve the house buying and selling process.
It says that conveyancers are highly regulated, and that estate agents should be subject to “some increased regulation”.
Law Society president Joe Egan said: “Home buyers and sellers should be aware of their rights, as well as the responsibilities of all stakeholders in the transaction. This should include an overview of the process and the potential costs and fees involved. We are calling on the Government to ensure consumers have access to this information at the beginning of transactions.”
On the part technology could play in improving the house buying and selling process, the Law Society sounds lukewarm. It says technology can play a key role, but that it is not the silver bullet.
The ‘beginning of transactions’ could be defined as being as early as the moment a potential buyer decides whether to pick up a phone or not to an agent about a property based on the information given.