Complaints against the estate agency industry are up again.

The number of disgruntled members of the public that the Property Ombudsman Scheme found in favour of in 2011 stand at 324 against 316 the previous year, figures released today reveal.

Of particular note is the issue of the amount of money awarded to the consumer in these cases though, a rise of 11.8% to £91,178 in compensation ordered.

Against a backdrop of 2000 fewer estate agency branches existing compared to 2008 (according to Ordnance Survey) you might be forgiven for believing that complaints are actually therefore quite significantly higher and more so when you look behind the initial numbers.

The reason? Selling fees.

If you receive a poor service and are asked to stump up a cost that you also feel is higher than might be justified, then surely you are more likely to complain?

The OFT stated in its property industry survey of 2010 that the typical UK estate agency fee was 1.6% plus vat. But this year the Halifax puts it at 1.8%.

Traditional High Street agents are charging more because they are experiencing lower sales volumes due to the poor market. They need more from you per transaction to make up for the short fall. But they are clearly irritating their clients more at the same time, as the figures so clearly demonstrate.

The biggest area of complaint surrounds estate agents’ lack of communication with clients, sellers in particular rather than buyers. Again, they are the ones paying the commission, not the buyer.

There is of course an irony to the main grip against property agents being communication given that their very existence centres on that particular skill. Fees, complaint handling and the quality of sales particulars feature highly on the ‘bad list’ too.

Interestingly, the figures revealed today by the Property Ombudsman show that Northern Ireland, Scotland and the North East are the least likely to complain about their agent.  The South East has the highest proportion of moans. will sell your property for a one off fee of £295.00 plus vat. Ten times less than the average High Street estate agent.

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