More protection for house-buyers

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The Independent Online
House-buyers and sellers will soon have new rights and greater protection because an estate agent complaints scheme is being extended across the industry. From January next year every high street will include at least one estate agent which belongs to the ombudsman scheme.

The expansion of the scheme was welcomed by the Office of Fair Trading, which recently issued a stern warning to the industry following reports that some estate agents were engaging in sharp practices. From January 1 1998 the public are being advised to only use an agent which is displaying the scheme logo.

The new Ombudsman for Estate Agents scheme is aimed at making it easier for buyers and sellers who are unhappy about the service they have received to complain and get compensation if their grievance is judged to be valid.

The move is the result of a link-up between the large estate agency chains and the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and the Incorporated Society of Valuers and Auctioneers (ISVA).