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Written by rosalind renshaw

The NAEA has launched its licensing scheme for estate agents.

The scheme, which will be open to NAEA members, was launched at the House of Commons, and hailed by housing minister Grant Shapps as a “symbolic moment”.

He said: “For years I’ve been calling for better standards throughout this industry, so I’m delighted the NAEA are taking matters into their own hands and launching a licensing scheme that will ensure their members become known for their professionalism and integrity.

“I call on all estate agents to sign up and make sure they’re not left behind when consumers vote with their feet.

“This is exactly the sort of measure the housing market needs – simple and sensible changes that are driven by industry and designed to deliver results.

“By ensuring they enjoy the trust of people buying and selling homes, estate agents will inject greater confidence and movement in the housing market.

“In future, anyone looking to buy a home or sell theirs should ask the simple question of their estate agents: ‘Are you licensed?’”

He added: “This is an idea whose time has come: it is the right way to go.”

Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the NAEA, said: “Nobody would knowingly get into an unlicensed taxi. However, thousands of people are willing to entrust one of the most important transactions of their life to people who are not qualified or experienced.

“From now on, estate agency in the UK is a two-tiered industry – those agents who are licensed and those who are not. I think the public will welcome the distinction and I believe that this move will raise standards across the industry.”

NAEA President Michael Jones said he had just returned from the National Association of Realtors conference in America. Agents there, he said, were aghast that there was nothing in the UK to stop anyone setting up as an estate agent the following day.

But he made it clear that the NAEA, which has been campaigning for mandatory licensing of all agents for many years, had not abandoned its fight.

He said of the NAEA licensing scheme: “It is the first step towards regulation of the entire industry. We still totally believe that full, mandatory licensing should be introduced. Successive governments have not got involved with that, but we will continue to make that call.”

The NAEA licence will guarantee that the agency is covered by required amounts of Professional Indemnity Insurance, will undertake CPD, commit to keeping up to date with industry developments and be bound by the NAEA’s rules of conduct.

A licensed estate agency branch means that at least one agent within that branch is qualified in residential property sales, either through a formal qualification or through length of service in the industry.

Among the first agents to be NAEA licensed is Feather Smailes & Scales, in Harrogate, where partner Charles Smailes is NFoPP chairman, and The Property People, in north Wales, owned by former NAEA chairman Melfyn Williams.

The NAEA proposes to get as many members as possible licensed by June 2011.

Comments

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    Silly old me but i always thought that english law was there to protect the people of the uk, if they cant do that do you realy believe they can moderate EA`S. I work hard for my money and my clients so if a slug climbs out from beneath a rock then they should face the courts not the get rich quick licence opperators of the uk

    • 09 March 2013 16:04 PM
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    Silly old me but i always thought that english law was there to protect the people of the uk, if they cant do that do you realy believe they can moderate EA`S. I work hard for my money and my clients so if a slug climbs out from beneath a rock then they should face the courts not the get rich quick licence opperators of the uk

    • 09 March 2013 16:03 PM
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    I agree with Johnno I just looked at Property Match site - its dire to say the least.

    This NAEA thing is just another 'club' to join and I have decided that I now want to retire.

    The business is now populated by a bunch of money grabbing nitwits and our elected dictatorship of a government wants to legislate everything but nobody police's the legislation.

    The latest one I heard was a corporate wants £2000 off one of my clients to provide them with (get this) and EXECUTIVE SERVICE and this will become part of the deal if it goes through. They didn't say what happens to the dosh if it does not go through.

    This is what I mean by money grabbing.

    The other thing is when you have a complaint against a NAEA menber the boys at the top are a toothless bunch of cretins with no power of discipline and they are in my opinion a waste of space. My complaint led me nowhere other than up the garden path in the piddling rain.

    • 06 December 2010 13:32 PM
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    12 Hours CPD! As one of the few agents who has sat exams; Law, Economics, Town and Country Planning, Valuation and Surveying and who has kept up with all the changes in the industry I am being asked to spend minimum 3 days away from the office or attend countless ego dominated branch meetings in order to be licensed.
    I view this as forcing me to buy one of their many jobs for the boys training sessions or forcing me to attend a branch meeting.The usual sign here papers have arrived today with no detail about CPD other than it is an obligatory 12 hours. This sort of high handedness is simply arrogant.

    • 26 November 2010 15:24 PM
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    I agree with you 100% Allan. There's far too many rogue agents out there, the game is up, we need to clean up the business and earn the respect of our customers, that won't happen with dirty tricks, lies and taking back ganders !

    • 24 November 2010 20:59 PM
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    Brain really does need to go back to bed and get out of the other side! Mayfair Office (and some similar ilks) actually IS an office in the city for we "country boys" and is a pro-active part of our businesses providing much needed national and Home Counties coverage and support. Negativity doesn't rule OK?

    • 22 November 2010 13:01 PM
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    Brain - "Mr Corpus-The public are not able to “Vote with their Feet” as they are conned by such practices as paid for Initials, how are they meant to know they are worthless???" -HOW MANY MORE TIMES, BRAIN, YOU NEED TO PASS AN EXAM!! (Brain - could there be a more inappropriate username?)

    • 22 November 2010 11:14 AM
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    Richard C - "We are dealing with people's most valuable asset and they deserve better than the agent who sets up with little or no experience or can't be bothered to take a standard examination in good practice, basic building construction and land law" - thank goodness, I thought I was in a minority of 1!

    • 22 November 2010 11:06 AM
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    RICHARD - "The NAEA will never have any credability when joining is so simple, can youn write your name and you get nice initials after your name?" - keep up Richard, you need to pass an exam nowadays (which means cutting down on spelling mistakes, i'm afraid..).

    • 22 November 2010 11:01 AM
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    Mr Corpus-The public are not able to “Vote with their Feet” as they are conned by such practices as paid for Initials, how are they meant to know they are worthless??? What member of the public would even know basics such as to how to check if an agent is even a member of the Ombudsman scheme? They see such practices as Mayfair Office, London Office and they really believe the little country boy had an office in the big city. The “Industry” is hardly clean is it?

    • 22 November 2010 10:50 AM
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    What a load of whinging! 80% and rising of licensed agents will be qualified by examination and all have more than a reasonable degree of experience in the industry. We are dealing with people's most valuable asset and they deserve better than the agent who sets up with little or no experience or can't be bothered to take a standard examination in good practice, basic building construction and land law. This is the old chestnut of whether estate agents are property professionals or just property practitioners. The public will vote with their feet one way or the other!

    • 22 November 2010 10:40 AM
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    The NAEA will never have any credability when joining is so simple, can youn write your name and you get nice initials after your name? They don't have any teeth, any effective redress system and you will still need to join the Omdudsman scheme unkless of course you belong to a proper organisation like the RICS. I have even seen some who think being a Fellow is good! Cor, so old you can say FNAEA and those fellows will not even had to write their name on a sham exam paper.......

    • 22 November 2010 10:32 AM
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    Jo Public - "All EA's are untrained dipsticks as far as the general public are concerned" - you're dead right Jo, so those firms and individuals who choose to get qualified and commit to ongoing training will certainly have a competitive advantage, don't you think?

    • 22 November 2010 10:30 AM
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    BURF - " You obviously think highly of the NAEA and stand for what YOU think they are for. May I suggest that you ask a few members of the public if they have heard of the NAEA?" - No point asking that question Burf, not many people have heard of the NAEA. But ask them (as I do) whether estate agents should be licensed and be required to pass an exam in order to practice (like many other advanced economies)and you get a resounding YES!

    • 22 November 2010 10:24 AM
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    the experience of life as an agent is more important than having a few useless initials after ones name, all this is nonsense in regard to licencing...another semi coroprate idea come on everyone wake up forget this and start selling some houses...sorry rant over

    • 20 November 2010 22:13 PM
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    All EA's are untrained dipsticks as far as the general public are concerned. All they rely on is what the last house sold for in the street then add a bit for luck, what absolute nonsense!!!

    • 20 November 2010 19:40 PM
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    @ Allan Taylor - You obviously think highly of the NAEA and stand for what YOU think they are for.
    May I suggest that you ask a few members of the public if they have heard of the NAEA? You might then see how much money you are wasting by being a member of the NAEA!!
    Of course you can keep telling them that you have had all the training etc but do they really care, from my conversations with the public they have no idea who they are or what they do.
    Simon

    • 20 November 2010 10:29 AM
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    Chris: Spot on!
    Big T: Spot on!

    P.S. No one should EVER seek to have even more regulations and costs - there is eneough already - they are just not used.

    • 20 November 2010 09:54 AM
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    I would happily be licensed by a non profit making organisation.

    • 20 November 2010 09:39 AM
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    Despite having been gone for 6 months Hips have been mentioned again in this chain as has Mike O. You just can't leave either alone, why is that? As an ex Hip provider I have, over the last few weeks been asked by a number of agents to provide electronic copies of some old Hips. When asked why, they said the buyers' solicitor found the contents helpful and wanted to see the searches. I pointed out that the searches were out of date and personal searches, a double whammy I thought? Not so, "no problem" the agents said "the solicitor will just take out some cheap easily available search insurance." The words baby, bathwater and throw spring to mind Mr Shapps!

    • 20 November 2010 08:02 AM
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    What gives a private money grabbing company the right to lord over other companies and then persuade the governement to force companies to pay said money grabbing company, money to trade!!! We are regulated already, just leave it at that. We are already legislated enough. Estate Agents Act, Property Misdescriptions Act, Money Laundering Act, Data protection Act, FSA and can be closed down by Trading Standards if we don't behave.
    What will a licence do and furthermore, why should Estate Agents be treated differently from retailers, builders, new home developers etc.
    The reason this country is in such a mess is because of over regulation and control.

    Youtube the very excellent program that was shown last week called "The Trillion Pound Horror Story" and then ask yourself the question, do we really want to $hit of private businesses anymore in this country? This country is a joke!

    • 20 November 2010 00:23 AM
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    Yep and that is just what the dishonest licenced solictor and doctor did, even went to university for a few years.

    Dishonesty is a mind set. AND we do have enough rules and legislation to control us. Licensing is a red herring for those that have something to gain from it .... just like HIPs.

    • 19 November 2010 20:28 PM
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    not again - "Are you telling me that if i am a criminal, all i have to is pay them £100 and i change into a saint. The public arent stupid, thankfully" - NO, NOT AGAIN, YOU WILL HAVE TO STUDY, PASS AN EXAM AND COMMIT TO CPD - is that too difficult for you? Thankfully, the public are not stupid at all...

    • 19 November 2010 15:58 PM
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    Sort of lost its impetus in the first paragraph.

    Grant Shapps described it as ‘symbolic’, and that’s the problem, it is. Put aside the usual observations on the NAEA being a layer of toothless training course / magazine salesmen.

    If licensing is going to have a meaning its got to hold an agent accountable when they break the rules and really protect consumers from negligence, poor service / poor value for money and anything else outside the current law and for this to happen it has to be established in English Law, and compulsory………neither of which will happen.

    Regardless – we should all sign up along with the Ombudsman etc it’s another logo on the door / letterhead supporting the ‘symbolic’ efforts being made.

    Jonnie

    • 19 November 2010 14:31 PM
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    Hello Allan,

    Thanks for feedback, yes I probably am losing it, there's nothing more past than a past president - I know that!
    However, I think you'll find that the NAEA's calling for estate agency licensing 'since the 60's' was intended to be government lead. and I don't see any 'hidden agenda' - quite the contrary - a very open one! I just have a problem with the dear old NAEA publicly campaigning against some of their own members by implying that whilst they may be members (with the same PII, accounts and other requirements) they are second rate because they are not 'licensed'.

    • 19 November 2010 14:22 PM
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    There are so many of these rascals running aroun dthat the public ignores them anyway. I am going to set up an association to stop these rip off merchants taxing trying to tax my business all the time. I need protection not the public!!!

    Are you tellin gme that if i am a criminal, all i have to is pay them £100 and i change into a saint. The public aren t stupid, thankfully

    • 19 November 2010 14:10 PM
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    Big T, given the NAEA's call for licensing from the outset in the late '60's, why do you think there's some hidden agenda now. And why do you think that unqualified NAEA agents who get involved in lettings should be recommended by NFOPP against qualified ARLA agents? Alas, poor Trev, methinks it's you tis losing t'plot!

    • 19 November 2010 13:54 PM
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    Big T: you are absolutely right. What do you think about the NAEA dismantling its branch system? Is this also part of the lost plot?

    • 19 November 2010 13:54 PM
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    One of the reasons this 'licensing' grade of membership has been promulgated (I imagine, I've no input at all these days in NAEA policy) was to deal with the nonsense that an 80 branch firm could have just a single principal partner or director in NAEA Membership (probably at head office) and yet EACH branch was listed as NAEA sanctioned.

    Licensing is a sledgehammer to crack a nut and may result in a further lowering of membership numbers, because the anomaly now is that there will still be thousands of subscription-paying members who chose not to become licensed and will see their own Association actually advising the public NOT TO USE THEM, rather like the thousands of NAEA Members who do rentals but see NFoPP telling the public ONLY TO USE ARLA Members!!Something's rotten in the State of Denmark, and this Yorick thinks Warwick's lost the plot on this one! Big T

    • 19 November 2010 13:05 PM
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    Trevor - "A car licence doesn't provide the ability to drive a lorry". You're right, but an NAEA license at least proves that you're qualified by examination and committed to CPD. To take your analogy a step further, OEA membership is the equivelant of AA membership - it doesn't prove you can drive a car! Licensing/certificate to trade hasn't stopped rogue mortgage brokers, rogue EPC inspectors, surveyors or lawyers. Regulation already exists and the Ombudsman is there. Agents must have choice.

    • 19 November 2010 12:39 PM
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    The Law Society is trying to do something similar with the new Conveyancing Quality Scheme launched last month and set to go live in the New Year. In this case pressure to sign up is being brought to bear by lenders (via the CML and BSA) and professional indemnity insurers. The implication for conveyancing solicitors is if you don’t join you might be removed from lender panels and might find it more difficult to obtain competitive PI insurance rates. However, there is no guarantee being offered from lenders or insurers that joining will help with panel membership or better insurance rates.

    Other objectives of the CQS is to raise public awareness and try to convince the public that instructing a CQS conveyancing solicitor would be better than instructing a non CQS conveyancing solicitor. We currently await the details of a Client Service Charter that will become part of the scheme. The scheme is also supposed to reassure estate agents that recommending a CQS conveyancing solicitor would be a better option than recommending a non CQS conveyancing solicitor. Will it?

    Agents and solicitors, whether they like it or not, need to work together, shouldn’t the NAEA and the Law Society also be working together so that both of these schemes dovetail in some way? Perhaps the CQS should have included an Estate Agents Charter for solicitors to follow and the estate agents scheme a Conveyancing Solicitors Charter for estate agents to follow?

    The public needs to be able to trust both professions (fortunately the majority do) and know that an excellent service will be provided because the two work together in their best interests, whenever possible.

    • 19 November 2010 12:18 PM
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    Michael - "I'm an independent in NAEA & Ombudsman Scheme. I'm about to join ARLA. Does the public really seem to care? No, we get our business through board presence and recommendations" - Agents get business in many ways, including the ones you mention. Other agents get business in other, dubious ways and no doubt you suffer as a result. Being a member of Ombudsman Scheme says nothing about you. Being a member of NAEA says you are qualified and committed to ongoing training. It's up to you to use this as another, valid way of securing business.

    • 19 November 2010 11:49 AM
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    So what does the licence cover. There are many areas in estate agency, will it qualify the agent to deal in freeholds, leaseholds, all property types be they modern, period, party to quirk area law etc, etc. A car licence doesn't provide the ability to drive a lorry. For those wanting NAEA training and licensing then this is a good thing. For agents who don't then they should have choice. Licensing/certificate to trade hasn't stopped rogue mortgage brokers, rogue EPC inspectors, surveyors or lawyers. Regulation already exists and the Ombudsman is there. Agents must have choice.

    • 19 November 2010 11:44 AM
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    "Why not offer licensing to all agents that wish to abide by a code of conduct regardless of whether or not they want to be in the agent's tufty club?" - actually, the NAEA have been campaigning for this since their inception, but successive governments have said NO! Don't blame that one on the NAEA.

    • 19 November 2010 11:39 AM
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    This has kicked off a lively debate!!! Is it a licensing scheme open to all agents or just to NAEA members? If it just for NAEA members then it is pretty worthless and an obvious strategy to boost membership rather than provide a service to the industry. Why not offer licensing to all agents that wish to abide by a code of conduct regardless of whether or not they want to be in the agent's tufty club?

    • 19 November 2010 11:35 AM
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    So not a lot of good things to say about the NAEA then everyone! If anybody thinks any kind of Licensing scheme is anything other than a way to make money for a few people (and yes that includes The Property Ombudsman) then you are mis-guided. If you are a good honest agent, you need to promote yourself and differentiate yourself in the market. The NAEA is there for its own purposes, and will never gain anyone an instruction or sale on its own.

    • 19 November 2010 11:32 AM
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    Mark - "I thought that paying the Ombudsman each year meant (and proved) that we, as Agents, have to stick to rules, regulations etc etc...!" - erm, no, not really. NAEA membership (nowadays) requires study, passing an exam and committing to ongoing training. See the difference?

    • 19 November 2010 11:29 AM
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    and so do many an NAEA member pretend to be professional! This isn't the answer to cleaning up the act.

    • 19 November 2010 11:17 AM
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    I'm an independent in NAEA & Ombudsman Scheme. I'm about to join ARLA. Does the public really seem to care? No, we get our business through board presence and recommendations. I can't really see it helping anyone much if we now get pushed to join another voluntary scheme ... its time for a compulsory licensing system with teeth. But what kind of teeth would have any impact against a rogue trader? If they get closed down, they usually re-open quickly enough using one loophole or another. Its all smoke & mirrors unless and until the licensing authority has the status of say Law Society or whatever body licenses the medical profession. We are not in their league, we just sell very expensive stuff. Perhaps prestige car sales staff, and jewellers, should be licensed too?

    • 19 November 2010 11:14 AM
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    Well said

    • 19 November 2010 11:11 AM
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    BTW, isn't Mike Ockenden driving an unlicensed taxi now?

    • 19 November 2010 11:02 AM
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    This is the first great step for the industry to clean up its act. Some corporate estate agencies and rogue independent agencies continue to wreck havoc on the market by door knocking, continuous touting and property mis-description. This IS a step forward and this should be supported by all professional agencies. Those agencies that have problems with this are simply not following the rules and want the freedom to do what they want, when they want, and this is wrong.

    • 19 November 2010 11:00 AM
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    Sorry, did I miss something...?

    I thought that paying the Ombudsman each year meant (and proved) that we, as Agents, have to stick to rules, regulations etc etc...!

    What a joke!

    Oh I'm sorry, I didn't hear that NAEA...? Did you say that you are now making the rules for all Estate Agents and that if we dont join your joke of a license scheeme you will make sure that I dont get any future business?

    Oh, ok then, I think I might invent my own governing/license scheeme the licenses all the license scheemes! how does that sound..?? Then I'm going to charge NAEA £1,000 Per annum for the privelage of bing watched over, sound like a plan?? Lovely, sign here please...

    • 19 November 2010 11:00 AM
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    A lot of comments seem to be missing the point. In order to become a member of NAEA nowadays, you are required to study and pass the Technical Award and commit to annual CPD. Leaving everything else aside, this is a good reason for professional agents to get involved. You don't need to demonstrate your expertise and commitment by joining the Ombudsman Scheme!

    • 19 November 2010 10:59 AM
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    RIP NAEA. So sad.

    • 19 November 2010 10:59 AM
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    I am sorry but if you check your prison lists there have been more inmates of Solicitors and Accountants than your friendly Estate Agent.

    Licencing or qualifications never made a man honest or capable, the ability to pass an exam is never an idication of how good a person is in his prefoession.

    Again we have Mr Peter Bolton King wagging the tail of the dof that feeds him a hansom salary and many persk. WE started the NAEA for unqualified Estate Agents, he unfortunately has made it into a bureacractic money making dictator ship that is not for the benefit of either the Members or Public.

    I am aware fo many Chartered Surevyors who feel the same way about the RICS I bet there are many more like me who feel the same way about the NAEA.

    • 19 November 2010 10:58 AM
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    If someone asks whether we are a licensed Agent - I can say YES as were are Licensed by NALS. How will the public differentiate?

    We are members of the NAEA but it all seems very woolly. If Mr Shapps thinks its such a great idea and emphasises that he has been campaigning for it for years, why did he decide it should be voluntary?

    • 19 November 2010 10:58 AM
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    Uncharacteristically late on this one EAT. Its been on 4saleorlet.co.uk since yesterday.

    • 19 November 2010 10:52 AM
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    More meddling with a free market and a poor attempt to boost NAEA! Probably keep 100 unemployables employed though !

    • 19 November 2010 10:46 AM
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    Saw this one coming along time ago but what a farce, sorry but this is more to do with the NAEA making a name for itself, basically blackmailing those that do not agree with them to join or be kept out in the cold by public perception of not being an NAEA member.

    Although the idea in principle is good (so were HIP's!) I know many an NAEA members who are ... well frankly dishonest and so do other agents including those within the NAEA. There are also good agents by the way. The NAEA do not police their members only react after the horse has bolted. So does this mean they will now start to expel some of their membership. Are they actually going to get out and police?

    Licensing should come from the Property Ombudsman if anyone, who is idependent and agents already subscribe to.

    I will not be blackmailed into joining the NAEA due to their conduct and that of many members for decades. History says alot!

    I will have no trouble countering the need to be an licened NAEA member with the public. Our integrity is and has always been beyond reproach and fully behind the Property Ombudsman until someone can show me someone who will actually protect the public better.

    • 19 November 2010 10:42 AM
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    Property Match....your website is shocking, the quality of information is poor at best...no wonder you have to down value properties in order to sell...Stop moaning at REAL agents and get your own house in order mate....

    • 19 November 2010 10:40 AM
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    Until licensing becomes compulsory, there will be a rogue element. I can see what the difference is between being licensed, or being a member of NAEA, ARLA or NALS. No mention of Lettings - thats where the issue lies.

    • 19 November 2010 10:39 AM
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    Just another way of the NAEA to try to increase its fee income. Until mandatory licensing comes in, this will be as effective as a chocolate fireguard. If they are so convinced that agents should be licensed, then everyone with any kind of a sales responsibility in an office should be licensed, not just one member of staff, who could be the most junior employee. Too little, too late, goodbye NAEA.

    • 19 November 2010 10:35 AM
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    No, actually why not expect agents to stand by the advice they have just given? It makes sense - think about it.

    If all agents offered this, the market would start moving.

    Agents themselves would gain business.
    It would work because they would then be tracking the market's pulse with their asking prices.

    That's all that's needed to get things rocking again.

    I'm not suggesting that no agents enjoy the trust of those buying and selling houses. I'm saying we need ALL agents to be able to do this (or at least the large majority).

    • 19 November 2010 10:13 AM
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    Property Match - buyers and sellers do not enjoy the trust of agents?

    Thank you for that reliable, accurate statement. It's certainly not the case with people I have dealt with. Many seem to come back for more in a few years time - what a lack of trust.


    I've got a cracking idea though..why not enforce an agent to buy a property themselves if it does not sell? That would solve everything.

    Give it a rest.

    • 19 November 2010 09:56 AM
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    So the NAEA come up with a scheme to boost their dwindling membership, surely if they were that concerned about standards they would have had such a scheme at their inception. Is this necessary when compulsory Ombudsman membership is already in place tying agents to a code of practice and enforcing high standards?

    • 19 November 2010 09:50 AM
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    Surely, agents do not enjoy the trust of those buying and selling houses at present, so how can a simple licensing scheme change anything please?

    That trust needs to be earned by improving what agents do. Which organisation they happen to belong to is not sufficient. Unfortunately, the standards set by the NAEA simply don't protect anyone as far as asking prices are concerned. These don't relate to the true market's pulse at present, and that is what needs to be addressed.

    • 19 November 2010 09:20 AM
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