The government plans to clamp down on the practice of "gazumping" by estate agents among multiple measures announced today in a bid to improve the property market for consumers.
Estate agents will also be required to hold a professional qualification and be transparent about fees for referrals to solicitors, surveyors and mortgage brokers.
The moves will "professionalise" the sector and create a "more trustworthy and reliable industry", the government said.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it will "[encourage] the use of voluntary reservation agreements" to limit the unpopular practice of gazumping, in which an agent accepts a higher offer after previously agreeing a price from a buyer.
Other measures will include setting a timeline for local authority searches, so buyers receive information within a set time period.
Freeholders will also be forced to provide up-to-date lease information for a fee and an agreed timetable, and the government will "strengthen" the National Trading Standards estate agency team.
Estate agents have already found themselves in the crosshairs of the Conservative government, with a ban on letting agency fees introduced at the end of last year.
Housing secretary Sajid Javid said:
Buying a home is one of the biggest and most important purchases someone will make in their life. But for far too long buyers and sellers have been trapped in a stressful system full of delays and uncertainty.
So were going to put the consumers back in the driving seat. We will require estate agents to hold a qualification so that people are no longer at risk from a minority of rogue agents and can trust the process when buying or selling their home.