OFT plans home buying market study

The Office of Fair Trading is proposing a market study to look at alternative ways of buying and selling homes.

The OFT says the study will investigate the traditional estate agency model and will address issues of competition on price and quality between different agents.

It will also look into the prospects for internet property retailers to enter the market and how much protection there is for buyers and sellers under existing regulation.

The study may also cover relationships between estate agents and mortgage brokers, surveyors solicitors and professional advisers.

The OFT will be contacting key parties directly and plans to start the study early next year.

Other interested parties can submit written views directly to the OFT by January 16 2009.

John Fingleton, chief executive of the OFT, says: “Buying or selling a home is something most consumers do only a few times in their life but it is usually the biggest transaction they will make.

“We want to ensure that consumers are served well when buying or selling a home and are supported by an effective, competitive and innovative market.”

He adds: “Before embarking on such an important piece of work we want to engage with the industry and consumer groups to get a clear idea of the most salient issues we should focus on.”