Summary and conclusions

AuthorConsumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (European Commission), Deloitte consortium, IPSOS, London Economics
9. Summary and conclusions
Real estate services is the worst performing market of the 42 markets studied in the
European Commission’s Consumer Market Scoreboard (2016 edition).197 Moreover, large
differences in market performance are observed across Memb er States. The market for
real estate services is complex and largel y regulated at the national level. The complexity
of the market is caused by:
Number of steps involved in both the conveyancing and renting /letting process;
Number of different market agents active during the conveyancing and
renting/letting process and interacting with consumers;
Real estate transactions are infrequent for the average consumer (especially for
buyers and sellers).
Moreover, in a comparative perspective, thi s study observed cross-country differences
with regard to:
Legislation governing the conveyancing and renting/letting process;
Regulation of the profession of real estate agent; and
Actors involved in real estate transactions and the extent of service provi sion.
Overall, one of the main problems behind consumers’ dissatisfaction with t he real estate
services market seems to be related to discrepancies in the levels of supply and demand
for properties. Across the EU28, 32% of respondents surveyed as part of this study, who
had recently bought/rented a property (or who had attempted to do so), had encountered
difficulties due to increasing prices/rent for properties and 29% had experienced problems
due to the lack of affordable housing. This type of problem was more frequently mentioned
by younger consumers; for example, 24% of over 54 year-olds had experienced problems
due to the lack of affordable housing, compared to 33% of 18-34 year-olds. Issues arising
from a shortage in supply, however, go beyond the question of high market prices and can
result in a power hierarchy and discrimination. Professionals in the real estate market could
potentially take advantage of this type of situation and exercise undue influence on
consumers (e.g. put pressure on consumers to quickly conclude a transaction).
This consumer market study identified aspects of the real estate services market that
are most likely to be problematic for consumers; an d, in these areas, actions should
be undertaken to foster consumer awareness and consumer protection:
Level of regulation on conveyancing/renting;
Policy measures, including the establishment of a minimum set of qualitative
standard requirements, to improve the quality of real estate servi ces
Information provision on real estate properties;
Cross-border transactions;
Choice in the market for real estate services;
Real estate agency fees and information provision about such fees;
Consumer problems and complaints.
The market activities covered under the study are:
Intermediation in buying, selling and rental of real estate on a fee or contract basis;
Advisory activities and appraisal services in connection to buying, selling and rental
of real estate, on a fee or contract basis.

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