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Trade body calls on Government to license agents

Wednesday 03 January 2018

The Conveyancing Association has proposed that all estate agents should be licensed and made to pass a fit and proper test as a proviso to trading.

In response to the government's call for evidence on improving the house buying and selling process which closed last month, the Conveyancing Association highlighted the need for greater transparency for buyers and put forward the idea of mandatory licensing for all agents.

As part of their 10-point plan, and in a proposal not to dissimilar from our own, the Conveyancing Association called for all agents to have to pass a fit and proper person test in order to work in the industry. 

Additionally, in a recommendation reminiscent of Home Information Packs, the Conveyancing Association suggested the provision of a property log book for each individual property in the UK, detailing: title information, a comprehensive conveyancing property form, search data, and structural evidence, as a means to saving wasted time in collating the same data on each transaction - essentially speeding up and modernising the house buying process as a whole.

Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association said:

“This response is all about delivering increased certainty for all parties and this is achievable if we improve the use of digital services and seek to use new and existing technology in order to cut down on duplication, to improve consumer understanding, to reduce wasted time, to guard against fraud, to cut out unnecessary costs and delays, the list goes on.”

The Conveyancing Association were not the only organisation in favour of greater regulation for agents however. The Law Society commented that it is “essential for everyone involved in the residential property market to comply with a proper level of regulation to safeguard consumers and promote fair competition. Solicitors and licensed conveyancers are highly regulated, and we believe that the process would be improved if estate agents were subject to some increased regulation.”

Whilst the Law Society didn't recommend a route to appropriate regulation, nor did they go as far as the Conveyancing Association, they did suggest that as a minimum there should be mandatory obligations or a Code of Conduct for estate agents, whereby they provide standardised written information to prospective buyers before they view a property.

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) also suggested that minimum entry requirements (for example, a fit and proper person tests, qualifications and training) should be set out by the Regulator in consultation with professional associations, to include basic and ongoing training requirements for front-line staff.

NAEA Propertymark have long campaigned for, and supported the move towards greater regulation and guidance within the industry, which was reiterated in our own response to the call for evidence. We believe that full and mandatory regulation of sales is the quickest and most effective method to eliminate unprofessional, unqualified and unethical agents from the property sector.

Read our full response