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Estate Agents and the Law

Estate Agency has made huge strides in improving its reputation recently. Most professionals in the business are keen to redress the balance in the public?s eye and work tirelessly to be seen to be beyond reproach in their dealings, and exhibit the highest personal and corporate integrity.

As estate agents usually represent the vendor there is a clear obligation to act in their client?s best interests. In the past this sometimes meant that agents would perpetrate ?terminological inexactitudes? or bend the truth when it came to describing their clients? property.

However, agents of integrity are keen to point out to their clients that they have a responsibility under The Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 to ensure that the property is not described in a misleading way both in regard to inclusion or omission. Many people are unaware that these regulations relate not only to estate agents, but also to their clients.

This means that whilst an estate agent should thoroughly check all relevant facts supplied, there is also a legal onus on the seller to provide reliable information to the agent as well.

Estate agents themselves are bound by The Estate Agents Act 1979. Vendors should note that whilst agents have a degree of freedom to draft their client service contracts as they see fit, there are certain rules that must be followed. For example, agents must provide a full breakdown of all charges; they must reveal any connection they have with the buyer or seller, and they must convey all offers to the seller promptly and in writing.

Of course, you can?t legislate for integrity, but when selecting an agent, vendors should make quite sure that their chosen agent not only adheres to the letter of the law, but demonstrates a level of professionalism that considerably exceeds its requirements.

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