The recent warning to estate agents by the Competition and Markets Authority sends a strong signal to the industry that “informal relationships” between agents could be in breach of the law.
That is the message from Michael Dean of law firm Maclay Murry Spens.
In a guest blog for estatesgazette.com, the website of property weekly Estates Gazette, Dean says even informal arrangements over coffee or a beer, perhaps among former colleagues, can see firms end up in hot water if they relate to pricing or even simply advertising of fees or discounts.
Estate Agent Today has extensively reported the CMA’s recent actions and the case involving three agents and their local association.
Now Dean is advising that agents “should ensure that all staff are aware of the law and consider putting in place straightforward compliance measures.”
In addition to pricing and competition issues, he warns that another area where the CMA may be interested in estate and letting agents would be around the Bribery Act.
“Not many estate agents would consider taking an outright bribe and few would think of themselves as ever having done so in any shape or form. But firms can fall foul of the act if they offer advantageous terms or information to regular buyers, such as developers, to the prejudice of their other clients for whom they are selling” warns Dean.
His full blog is here.