Housing market regulation

Time for regulation across all sectors of the housing market say lawyers

22.01.09 pr001.09

Consumers need a housing market that has a properly regulated framework covering every aspect of the buying and selling process, says the Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX).

Commenting on proposals for a market study into the house buying and selling process by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), ILEX is of the opinion that, while certain sections of the process such as the legal aspects and survey are covered by an appropriately regulated framework, other areas such as estate agency offer little or no protection for consumers. There is little training, accountability or protection for consumers in this area where estate agency staff often have access to both homes and sensitive personal information.

The Institute also has concerns that an inter-relationship has developed between lenders and other key sectors which is not in the best interest of consumers. It believes this has led to disparities in valuation, overvaluing of property and instability in the market.

Welcoming the OFT proposals for a study into the home buying and selling process ILEX Chief Executive, Diane Burleigh said, “ILEX hopes that the focus of this market study will be on establishing proper regulatory frameworks that also allow for innovation across all business in this sector, while protecting the vulnerable and less experienced participants in the house buying process.

“Our major concerns are the lack of appropriate regulation for estate agency businesses, and the relationship between lenders and other key players in the system. After all, it is poor lending practices that once again underlie another recession. We are concerned that individuals with little or no training or accountability are able to have access to people’s homes and family members, their confidential financial data and other personal data, with very few safeguards in place to protect the consumer.

“There is a thorough and comprehensive regulatory system governing the activities of lawyers,” she continued, “so currently the buck is passed to this profession as often as possible. It is time for each component part to take a fuller share of responsibility for its dealings with the consumer. ILEX hopes this consultation will be an opportunity to explore and resolve these issues.”