There has been a huge increase in the number of residential estate agency offices in England and Wales covered by the Ombudsman for Estate Agents scheme.
The Ombudsman for Estate Agents has seen its membership rise by more than 2,500 since the beginning of the year.
It now has over 10,200 full members.
Christopher Hamer, Ombudsman for Estate Agents, says a recent recruitment drive revealed there were far more estate agency offices in England and Wales than had been officially estimated and around 13,000 offices had been directly contacted.
He says: “Now, the OEA covers 80% of all the residential estate agents in England and Wales and my next target is to increase coverage in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“To that end, I already have a trip arranged to Scotland and a visit to Northern Ireland is being planned.
“When I took over this role in December last year I promised I would reach out to firms who had yet to join and I am now vigorously following this up.
“The expansion of the OEA in the last 18 months or so is great news for consumers and the industry as a whole.”
Hamer points out that he still finds in favour of two thirds of complainants coming in but insists there is a genuine commitment, evidenced by increasing membership, to raise industry standards.
He adds: “Member agents commit to a Code of Practice endorsed by the Office of Fair Trading, the only one covering the residential property industry.
“Although funded by the industry, the OEA is entirely impartial and I can make awards of compensation of up to £25,000 in any one case.
“This is a not a fine to go to the exchequer as a court would impose but a direct payment to the wronged party.
“The OEA scheme also covers lettings as well as sales and I would urge all consumers to ensure any agency they deal with, whether buying, selling, or letting property, is displaying the OEA logo on its premises.”
Christopher Lacy, director of Savills, says: “Savills is pleased to be part of another nationwide redress scheme that is clearly now the principal scheme in the UK for the residential property market, giving reassurance for independent complaints resolution for both buyers and sellers.”