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Regulation will drive more consumers to DIY approach, says agency boss

The boss of a 15+ branch estate agency group has explained how he thinks regulation could 'ruin' the estate agency industry.

Simon Shinerock, chairman of Choices Estate Agents, says proposed plans to regulate estate and letting agents could drive more consumers towards DIY sales and lettings.

He says this is because regulation could reduce choice for consumers, increasing prices and harming customer service.

Earlier this year, the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA) working group made a number of recommendations for agency regulation, including a new independent regulator with mandatory licensing, code of practice and qualifications.

During an interview with industry consultant Christopher Watkin, which you can see in full below, Shinerock explains how his background in financial services has prepared him for what is coming in estate agency.

He says regulation changed the financial services industry for the worse as the number of advisers dipped from around 200,000 to approximately 20,000, adding that one of the key problems was regulation of the advisers rather than the products they offer.

The agent is asked to paraphrase the government's RoPA documentation. He says it's written by people with 'little or no empathy and understanding' and suggests there is an appetite to copy financial services regulation in the property industry.

Shinerock argues that the easiest way to protect consumers is to educate them. "It's hard to con somebody if they're educated," he says.

Watkin suggests there are a lot of 'sharks' in the property industry, asking whether they represent a minority.

Shinerock says that we must 'apply resources to the biggest problems' and that in the property industry one of the biggest problems is DIY landlords and sellers.

He argues that a qualification equivalent to a driving test which is ‘down to earth, practical and has an insight into the business’ would make sense. He says, however, that it won't happen that way.

Watkin concludes by asking Shinerock how the industry can steer regulation in the right direction. The agent suggests that the MP for Thirsk and Malton and founder of Hunters, Kevin Hollinrake, could be a useful asset as he has the ‘ear of the government’.

He adds that Boris Johnson is a more 'open-minded individual' and we might 'get somewhere' if someone explained to him the ‘mechanics, complexities and challenges’ of the property industry.

Choices is a nine-branch agency operating across the South East of England. It also has a number of associated brands including Sinclair Hammelton and Daniels in Kent.

The agency recently launched the Advanced Rent Option, which allows landlords to receive their annual rent upfront in one lump sum.

You can see the full interview below. Thanks to Chris Watkin for sharing it with our readers.

Poll: Will the government's plans for regulation drive more consumers to take a DIY approach to property?

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