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A higher professional standard

Sunday 08 April 2018

Government has today announced a series of measures which aim to drive up standards and bring an end to rogue estate agents. Housing Secretary Sajid Javid MP has announced that all agents will be required to hold a professional qualification.

The measures, which follow the Government's consultation process on house buying and selling which closed in December 2017 (see NAEA Propertymark's response here), will also require estate agents to be transparent about the fees they receive for referring clients to solicitors, surveyors and mortgage brokers. The scope of the measures will affect agents operating in England, Scotland and Wales, reflecting the scope of the Estate Agents Act 1979.

Other measures, designed to make the system easier, faster and more transparent include:

  • Encouraging the use of voluntary reservation agreements to help prevent sales falling through and crack down on gazumping;
  • Setting a timeline for local authority searches so buyers get the information they need within 10 days; 
  • Requiring managing agents and freeholders to provide up-to-date lease information for a set fee and to an agreed timetable which will end the current situation where leaseholders are at the mercy of freeholders and their agents;
  • Strengthening the National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team so they can carry out more enforcement activity which includes banning agents.

Mark Hayward, NAEA Propertymark Chief Executive said:

"We have been campaigning for a more professional estate agent market for years, and are really pleased the Government is committing to this. For too long, unprofessional agents with no qualifications have been able to operate in the sector, and advise homeowners as they undertake the most important purchases and sales of their lives. Our research has found that the process of buying a home is more stressful than starting a new job, undertaking home renovations or planning a wedding, so it’s important that agents are well-informed and professional, to make the process as easy and stress-free as possible.

"Enforcing compulsory qualifications will result in a fairer industry not only for consumers, but for the professional agents who have undertaken qualifications in order to deliver the highest standards every day."

Guides on ‘How to Buy’ and ‘How to Sell’ will be developed and published to offer consumers better information on the process and better understanding of the questions they should be asking.

The Government will work with consumer groups and industry to develop a consistent set of performance metrics for conveyancers, so consumers can make a more informed choice.

A working group will be set up to bring industry and partners, such as HM Land Registry, together to look at developing innovative digital solutions to speed up the home buying and selling process.

Government will consult on how the industry can be brought up to professional standards, like those in the same trade such as conveyancers, solicitors and surveyors.

The announcement comes amid a consultation on strengthening consumer redress and plans to introduce regulation for letting agents. 

See full details of the Government's announcement here.