Long-awaited controls of estate agents are expected to become law by the end of the year, The Irish Times reported today.
Promised since 2005, the changes will impose significant controls and sanctions on the activities of estate agents, including auctioneers, for the first time in the history of the State.
They arise following disquiet at the behaviour of some estate agents during the boom years.
“Out-dated, inappropriate and inadequate for the present-day market,” was former Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell’s 2005 damning indictment of the law, which is still with us six years on. But change is imminent. Among the measures will be:
- A Government agency, the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PSRA), already set-up informally in Navan, will control entry to the estate agency business. It will replace the District Court and Revenue Commissioners.
- The PSRA will investigate complaints against estate agents. Sanctions will extend to revoking an estate agent’s licence.
- Estate agents will be required to issue a clear letter of engagement to clients and to set out their estimated fees in real money terms, and not just as a simple percentage of sale price.
- Managing agents of apartment blocks will be controlled for the first time.
- Letting agents will be controlled for the first time.
- The sale prices of individual houses and apartments will be made public.
- The estimated sale price given by estate agents to hopeful buyers must not be less than the advised market value given to the vendors. The misguiding “guide price” syndrome will be no more.
- Estate agents cannot also work for the purchaser getting a mortgage on a property without the vendor’s agreement.
- Vendors will be banned from bidding for their own properties.
- A code of practice for estate agents has been published by the PSRA emphasising “core values” that are to be honoured.
- Estate agents must retain a written record of all offers in a private treaty sale.