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HomeOwners Alliance challenged to display its own referral fees on website

Land Insight to 17 April NS

The HomeOwners Alliance has been embroiled in a public dispute on Twitter after the Government announced that estate agents must in future disclose referral fees.

Henry Pryor and others raised concerns, saying that the HOA is part-owned by ULS Technology “& whose income I believe is based on fees from conveyancing referrals”.

The HOA tweeted back: “Yes we get a referral fee for conveyancing if u use one of our panel of 150 firms. We support referrals. But point is EAS shouldn’t push services to buyers & sellers in same chain as a conflict of interest. Consumers need to be able to shop around.”

Pryor replied: “It’s not a problem that you are paid but the fact you are and by whom ought to be on your website.”

He also asked how many home owners paying £45 a year did HOA represent.

Another person, Arthur House, asked HOA if it could vouch for the quality of all 150 firms.

Pryor has asked: “Everyone needs to earn a living but Govt. is keen people earning referral fees should be clear & upfront about it. Your website is pretty opaque about who pays you & for what. Perhaps you should be more upfront?

“How many members do you have? Who pays you? How much?”

However, he did not appear to get responses.

The exchanges happened as HOA claimed that 82% of UK adults support the idea of licensing for estate agents.

It said the poll – an annual survey sponsored by BLP Insurance – shows 75% support the idea of a reservation agreement where buyers and sellers put down non-refundable deposits.

HOA said the significance of its findings was that this year’s survey was conducted in the week before the Government announcements.

The poll, conducted on April 5, also showed that 80% of UK adults are in favour of buyers having to prove they have the funds to buy the property.

Chief executive of HOA Paula Higgins said: “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.”

She added: “It’s no surprise that the public support the idea of a reservation agreement – something we have been campaigning for tirelessly.

“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.”

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Source:: HomeOwners Alliance challenged to display its own referral fees on website