UK: CMA fines estate agents’ cartel £370k for rate fixing

A group of estate agents who secretly conspired to keep their fees high to make “as much profit as possible” have been fined £370,000 (US$450,000) for operating an illegal cartel.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said this was the second time in two-and-a-half years that it had taken enforcement action against estate agents, and this latest case raised concerns that the sector “does not properly understand the seriousness of anti-competitive conduct and the consequences of breaking competition law.”

The six estate agents, all based in the Burnham-on-Sea area of Somerset, had a meeting and agreed to fix their minimum commission rates at 1.5%, thereby denying local homeowners the chance of getting a better deal when selling their homes. Between them the agents dominated the local area: their market share was said to be potentially as high as 95%.

The CMA said it was publishing full details of the case to remind other agents to comply with the law and avoid being fined.

Full Content: Somerset Live

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