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TV cameras expose crooked estate agents

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20:53 CET+01:00
Hidden cameras in the TV programme Insider have revealed how some estate agents operate. False bids are among the disreputable practices shown. TV3's Insider revealed several estate agents with dubious ethics. The programme makers contacted 22 agents in the Stockholm area at random and said they had a property for sale.

The secret cameras showed some of the agents explaining how to rig the bidding process by slipping in false bids. Others were willing to put the porperty on the market at a knockdown price to attract interest or give advice on tax fiddles or illegal letting.

Lars Kilander is chief executive of the trade association, Mäklarsamfundet, which represents 4,400 estate agents.

He was devastated by what Insider's camerors captured.

"I'm saddened and disturbed," he told TT.

Kilander said that the association had invested significant resources in informing its members, for example, that agents are now obliged to follow the money laundering act and report suspected tax dodging to the police.

"This has been part of our information campaigns and training programmes for several years," he said.

Last December, a government review was appointed to scrutinise and modernise the Estate Agents Act. Part of the remit of head of the review, Ylva Norling Jönsson, is to define good practice for the profession.

"Part of good practice is how the bidding process is organised and how individual properties are marketed," she said.

Lars Kilander is part of the review group in his capacity as industry expert. He told TT that the review board were considering making it a requirement to present information about the market value in a property's description. But establishing a market value is a problem.

"One suggestion is to present three reference properties - similar properties in similar locations - and give their selling prices."

The review is due to report its findings by 31 August 2007.

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