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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

“At last!” - Industry embraces reform of buying and selling processes

Agents and representatives from other property sectors have reacted enthusiastically to proposals to professionalise the industry.

As we reported yesterday, the government wants estate agents to have qualifications before they set up business, with comprehensive reforms to simplify house buying.

“We particularly welcome the commitment to further regulation - we have long argued that estate agents should be recognised as professionals, this is an important step towards achieving this and we look forward to working with the government” says Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark.

“If you sit in front of your lawyer or accountant you would expect them to be qualified; the same should apply to someone selling or letting your key asset - hooray and finally!” says Frank Webster, director of Countywide-owned lettings agency Finders Keepers.

Leading market commentator and buying agent Henry Pryor described the measures as “sharpening up the industry” while training guru and chair of Agents Giving Peter Knight said on Twitter: “At long last.”

Jeremy Leaf, a north London agent and former chair of the RICS residential faculty, also took to social media to say: “Another very welcome long overdue announcement - now look forward to further detail and timetable for delivery.”

Russell Quirk, chief executive of online estate agency Emoov, says: “This is really great news. The industry and government have talked to a long time to clean up house buying. If you add both speed and certainty to the process, there will be fewer transactions falling through, less wasted money, and less stress for the consumer.

“For far too long it has got away with being almost entirely unregulated. How can it be that financial advisers dealing with the loan for the property are vetted, but the people dealing with the asset itself and the trauma of a protracted process are not overseen or licensed?”

Meanwhile Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance consumer group, says in a statement: “It’s been clear for many years that the current system is not fit for purpose. Buyers and sellers regularly pay referral fees and other hidden charges without fully understanding what they’re paying for. As a weakly regulated and inadequately enforced industry, many agents themselves do not understand the consumer laws they are required to abide by. This causes a huge detriment of both buyers and sellers, and sales are falling through regularly causing heartbreak and costing thousands.”

Higgins continues: “Proper regulation of the estate agency sector is fantastic news. Estate agents play a vital role in the sale and purchase of one of the biggest assets were ever likely to own yet for too long they’ve had no prescriptive rule by which to operate. This announcement will give homeowners and buyers greater assurances when getting involved in the buying and selling process.”

  • Simon Shinerock

    Yes well, please forgive me for being less than enthusiastic and more than a little bit cynical about both the proposed regulation and the effervescent reaction to it. The real reason for these announcements, the first on April Fools day for Lettings and the second yesterday for sales (very predictable) is all about dramatic effect created by a government trying to distract the nation from its incompetence and ineptitude. The warm fuzzy reaction these announcements have engendered from the industry have all come from players who think they are well equipped to benefit and have nothing to do with pleasure at the thought of the public getting a better more professional service. Of course sensible regulation would be welcome but we know from experience that we as a country don’t do sensible, what we do is unnecessarily complicated, just look at FS and you will see the future of estate agency. A vast increase in bureaucracy, huge additional training and recruitment costs, massively difficult rules to follow, ludicrous CPD requirements, tied hands when it comes to marketing, advertising and selling plus much more. All of this will focus on us as agents but what will attract no real attention will be the actual sales process itself, which, despite the the promise of reform, will now stay much as it is as we all struggle to become ‘professionals’ as defined by some mindless self serving bureaucrats. Now you may think I am lamenting my fate here but nothing could be further from the truth, the truth is my businesses will benefit disproportionately from these changes, less competition, lots of cheap businesses to buy up, many others who will seek me out to take shelter under the umbrella I will now create, already a plan in action, now made vastly more attractive. No, my objection doesn’t come from personal self interest, more from an academic disdain for hypocrisy and the cliched auto response we are hearing from those who see themselves as winners in all this, my message to them is a stark warning ‘beware what you wish for’

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