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Government plan to change property website restrictions

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The Government have proposed to remove restrictions on property websites that makes it compulsory to list a property description accurately the way estate agents have to. 

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills proposed amendments to the Estate Agents Act which will see websites that allow sellers to advertise their home online direct to buyers won’t be treated in the same way as estate agents.

Property websites currently don’t give advice or carry out other checks like an estate agent but as the act currently stands it treats them as agents, which means they have to do the same accurate checks as an agent.

Buying and selling a property online has become increasingly popular over recent years and now the Government want to ease restrictions so it will help sales within the private property market. Some property websites allow homes to be advertised free of charge whereas some charge £450 for a listing. This figure is relatively cheap considering estate agents fees can amount to thousands of pounds, which is why many homeowners choose to sell their property through an intermediary as it can be the cheapest option available.

Changes to the act will be made as soon as the parliamentary timetable allows which will hopefully ease restrictions that home property websites are currently facing.

Jo Swinson, the new consumer affairs minister, commented on the proposed amendments: “These intermediaries help buyers and sellers contact each other at a low cost, but don’t engage in other estate agent activities, so it’s unfair to expect them to go out and check all the property details of all the sellers on their websites.

“Reducing the regulations for these businesses will open up the market and increase choices for consumers looking to save costs when buying or selling a property.”

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By Amanda Bainbridge