Estate agents 'should pass tests'
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which carried out the research, wants to see stronger regulation of estate agents to make sure that first-time buyers are not "flying blind" through the "biggest purchase of their lives".%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
At present, agents who are not members of a professional body do not have to meet minimum competency standards.
There have been recent signs that more first-time buyers are entering the market following Government efforts to improve conditions and give people with smaller deposits a leg on to the property ladder.
First-time buyers have consistently been making up around two-fifths of house purchases in recent months.
However, RICS said its research found that three in 10 (29%) first-time buyers said they did not have a good understanding of the sales process when buying a home.
More than three-quarters (77%) of first-time buyers believe that consumers' understanding would improve if compulsory regulation of estate agents was introduced and 89% think that buyers would be better protected, RICS said.
RICS said that with the market showing signs of a pick-up and "seemingly over the very worst", more must be done to ensure that agents are suitably qualified to advise their clients through the sales process.
Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said: "When making the biggest purchase of their lives, it's important that buyers - and especially those who haven't been through the purchase process before - understand precisely what is involved.
"This is particularly relevant now, with the market now seemingly over the very worst and more first-time buyers in a position to make a move. I would recommend that anyone who is buying or selling a house checks that their agent is a regulated member of a professional body."