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Agents of fear

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10/05/2006

Britons do not trust estate agents, and certainly not in our homes, says Christina Jordan

Britons place estate agents in the top three least trusted professionals to be left alone in our homes, according to research from home insurer, More Than.

With 18% of the votes, estate agents were outvoted only by window-cleaners (31%), and builders and decorators (26%).

Estate agents showing people round their home when they are not present make two thirds of Brits (69%) feel uncomfortable. As a result, over half (51%) go out of their way to ensure they are always present at a viewing, but a fifth (18%) have no choice but to let the estate agents continue with viewings in their absence.

Such problems don’t just affect those buying and selling, but also renters. Over 1 in 10 people (11%) have experienced a dispute over payment of fees or commission with an estate agent.

The research follows the recent BBC fly-on-the-wall documentary Whistleblower, which revealed dubious sales practices such as under- and over-valuing, false offers and developer backhanders by some of the UK’s leading estate agents.

Craig Allen, Home Insurance Manager at More Than, comments: “Moving home is stressful enough without having to consider whether the person who is supposed to be assisting you is trustworthy. While we hope that for most people, the experience of dealing with estate agents is a smooth one, there are those for whom problems do arise. More Than Family Legal Services could offer peace of mind with a legal helpline and legal cover.”

Christopher Jones of West Kensington, London, is one of many who have experienced problems with estate agents. “I’m a renter and have always found letting agents very difficult to deal with”, he says, “whether it’s tardiness over repairs or failing to repay the deposit. From speaking to friends the treatment you receive from many estate agents doesn’t get any better when you decide to buy.”

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