The Office of Fair Trading is to launch a study of the estate agent industry over concerns about low customer satisfaction and regulation of online agencies.

The OFT has proposed a 'comprehensive look' at the process of buying and selling homes, including competition on price and quality between service providers; the prospects for new entry by, in particular, internet property retailers; and the extent to which consumer interests are protected by the existing regulatory framework.

The group will talk to businesses, Government and consumer groups before the launch of the study in 2009 to decide the issues it will focus on.

Estates agents across the country are facing a tough time with many selling just one property a week as the value of houses tumbles.

Daily Telegraph