Surveyors body says there ‘is more to protecting consumers than prices’ in response to Office of Fair Trading research

The RICS has lashed out at the Office of Fair Trading’s study into estate agents, saying that there “is more to protecting consumers…than prices”.

The OFT today released the findings of a year-long study into internet property sites, price competition between agents and consumer protection. It found that the industry remained dominated by traditional estate agents, with weak competition between them on price, and is calling on the sector for more innovation when buying and selling homes.

It also suggested new business models, such as services for introducing private sellers to each other.

But Steven Gould, director of RICS regulation, said the study was too fixated on price and that consumers needed protection in other areas too.

He added: “The OFT needs to start talking to the government about a joined up approach for property. The housing minister has announced plans for regulating lettings while OFT is advocating a free for all in sales.

“The consumer has a right to expect protection in both and the adoption of decent standards by those purporting to advise the public on buying and selling property. Unlike OFT, we do not see that this precludes new business models."