Office of Fair Trading
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OFT launches market study into home buying and selling

OFT launches market study into home buying and selling

OFFICE OF FAIR TRADING News Release (19/09) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 25 February 2009

The OFT has today formally launched its market study into home buying and selling, following two months of discussion with interested parties on its scope.

The study will take a comprehensive look at the market for home buying and selling services. It will consider:

* competition on price and quality between service providers, principally estate agents;

* the prospects for entry by new business models, including Internet-based models;

* whether the existing regulatory framework provides the right balance between protecting consumers who are buying or selling a home and ensuring that the market remains open to competition and innovation;

* the relationships between estate agents and other service providers such as mortgage brokers, surveyors, solicitors and other professional advisors.

The study will cover the whole of the UK, while recognizing the significant differences in how the market works in Scotland.

Heather Clayton, Senior Director of Infrastructure, said: 'With the economic downturn, we need to ensure that consumers receive a good service when buying or selling a home, from a market that is competitive, innovative and well-functioning.

'We have had constructive discussions on the scope of this study with interested parties from across central and devolved government, consumer groups and the industry. This means we are starting the study with a clear understanding of the key issues.'

The OFT intends to complete the study before the end of 2009. Further details, including the Study's statement of scope are available at:


1. On 8th Dec 2008 the OFT announced its intention to launch a market study and engage with interested parties for their views on the scope before formal launch. This included Government, the devolved administrations, consumer groups and the industry. See press release;

2. OFT market studies are carried out under section 5 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (EA02) which allows a market-wide consideration of both competition and consumer issues.

3. Market studies involve an analysis of a particular market with the aim of identifying and addressing any aspects of market failure from competition issues to consumer detriment and the effect of government regulations. Possible results of market studies include; enforcement action by the OFT; a reference of the market to the Competition Commission; recommendations for changes in laws and regulations; recommendations to regulators, self-regulatory bodies and others to consider changes to their rules; campaigns to promote consumer education and awareness; a clean bill of health.

4. The OFT is unable to provide advice or resolve individual complaints for consumers. Consumers can seek advice from Consumer Direct (tel: 08454 04 05 06,

PUBLIC enquiries: 0845 7224499
OFT reports and consumer information leaflets are available free from:
OFT, PO Box 366, Hayes UB3 1XB 0870 6060321

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