MORE than 90% of home buyers in Yorkshire are calling for compulsory regulation to better protect buyers from unscrupulous estate agents, says a survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Among those who failed to check whether their agent was a regulated member of a professional body, almost a quarter in the region said they did not trust them to provide honest and truthful advice.

With no statutory regulation in place to ensure sales agents are suitably qualified to sell property – and with public confidence at such a low level – the overwhelming majority of respondents in Yorkshire and Humber (93%) believe that buyers would be better protected if compulsory regulation were introduced.

While all sales agents are legally bound to offer a customer redress scheme, those who are not members of a professional body are not obliged to meet minimum competency standards or subject to the scrutiny of regulatory monitoring.

This means that consumers are potentially dealing with an agent who, while technically abiding by existing legislation, could be providing inaccurate advice.

Only agents who belong to a regulated professional body, such as RICS, are duty bound to a strict ethical code and obliged meet minimum competency levels.

If RICS agents fail to act in accordance with rules of conduct, they are subject to regulatory investigation and if found to have acted inappropriately are subject to sanctions. In extreme cases, agents can potentially lose their chartered status.

Bruce Collinson, spokesman for the RICS, said the organisation wanted to see all estate agents forced to sign up to a professional regulation scheme that provided better safeguards for buyers and sellers and was clearer than the current regulatory regime which is unnecessarily complex.

“Concise, compulsory regulation would both improve consumer protection and minimise the burden on business by simplifying legislation, making it easier for agents to abide by,” he said.

“Its no surprise that when people are making the biggest purchase of their lives, they want to feel like they can trust their agent and the advice they’re given.”