Estate agent AML checks up by 31% already in 2022

Research by Credas Technologies, the leading identity verification checks provider, reveals that anti-money laundering registrations in the real estate sector are on course to grow by over 30% in 2022.

The real estate sector is a common target for criminals who are looking to launder money sourced through illegal activities. By funnelling dirty money into, for example, housing, it can then come out of the other end clean, free of any trace leading back to illegality.

As such, the property market in the UK has been required to rapidly up its game when it comes to the implementation of anti-money laundering (AML) measures, not least identification checks.

The latest figures from Credas Technologies show that in Q3 2022, there were 136,913 AML registrations submitted by UK estate agencies. In other words, estate agents requested checks be carried out on almost 137,000 clients, the majority of whom will be hopeful homebuyers.

This marks a -3.7% decline on registrations compared to the previous quarter – Q2 2022 – which suggests that the pandemic-inspired housing boom is finally starting to slow: less homes being purchased means fewer AML checks for agents to request.

However, Q3 2022’s numbers are still 31.3% higher than those from a year earlier and 40% higher than Q3 2020 when the pandemic property market boom was first starting to bubble.

In total, there have so far been 460,923 buyers registered for AML checks in 2022. This leads Credas to estimate that, by the end of the year, 540,955 buyers will have been registered.

If this comes to fruition, it will mark a 30% annual increase compared to 2021’s overall registration numbers, and will equate to an average of 1,482 buyers being checked on a daily basis.

Tim Barnett, CEO of Credas Technologies, said: “The housing market continues to move at pace and while a marginal quarterly decline in AML checks suggest that this pace is starting to slow, there remains a high volume of buyers entering the market.

“A substantial annual increase in AML checks highlights just how busy the market has been in 2022 despite the doom and gloom narrative of the last few months. We’ve also seen an uplift in AML fines issued to estate agents, but both of these metrics indicate that the industry is taking the task at hand seriously and this is great to see.

“However, as we enter a more turbulent period it remains paramount that the nation’s estate agents continue the outstanding example set in 2022 and ensure that AML compliance remains robust.”