Wednesday 21 August 2019

Estate agents go to war with Fianna Fail over claim that 'fake bids' are driving up house prices

Fianna Fail TD Barry Cowen Picture: Tom Burke
Fianna Fail TD Barry Cowen Picture: Tom Burke

THE body representing auctioneers and estate agents has gone to war with Fianna Fail over the party’s claim that fake bids on property are driving up house prices.

The lobby group has written directly to party leader Michael Martin and its housing spokesman Barry Cowen urging them to provide proof.

The party plans to introduce new legislation that targets estate agents who use fake bids to increase prices before sales.

According to the Sunday Independent, the chief executive of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers (IPAV), Pat Davitt, wrote to Deputies Martin and Cowen stating: “If this anecdotal evidence remains un-investigated, it unfairly casts a dark shadow over all the law-abiding auctioneers throughout the country and their reputations.”

He told the newspaper the new laws were “opportunistic” and “didn’t make sense”.

He said: “If the market wasn’t going well there might be some grounds, but when the market is powering ahead, why would auctioneers want to make fake bids?”

The body, which represents more than 1,1000 auctioneers and estate agents, has never expelled a member for lodging fake bids to increase the price of a house before a sale.

IPAV has insisted that current laws are enough to tackle any potential fake bidding.

The Property Services Regulatory Authority (PRSA) deals with such complaints but its chief executive, Maeve Hogan confirmed to the Sunday Independent that the number they’ve received is “at such a low level that they are not grouped into a distinct and identifiable category”.

Fianna Fail housing spokesman Barry Cowen said the current complaints procedure is “not fit for purpose”.

He told the Sunday Independent: “It is rarely used and is not fit for purpose as it is quite a lengthy and time-consuming process. And such is the nature of the problem, by the time a decision has been made, the house has been sold to another buyer.”

For more see today's Sunday Independent newspaper.

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