New compulsory qualifications for estate agents will not only offer more transparency for customers but will help recruit better staff into the industry.
That’s the view of Anthony Hesse, managing director of the UK’s longest-established estate agency recruitment consultancy, Property Personnel.
The recent report from the Regulation of Property Agents working group recommended that agents have a minimum Level 3 qualification - equivalent to an A-level - and that this may apply to existing staff irrespective of their extensive experience.
The working group also recommended that all agencies operating a residential property business would have to be licensed, and licensing should include a fit and proper person test for company directors.
All customer-facing staff employed within residential agency businesses should be licensed and hold a qualification at Level 3 or above. In addition, all company directors and management agents would need to be qualified to a minimum of Level 4, and a new regulator will be appointed to oversee compliance with an overarching Code of Practice.
Lord Best, chair of the working group, has told Estate Agent Today that he hopes these measures will be in place by mid-2021.
Now Hesse says:“At this time every year, students across the country are considering their options after receiving their A-level results. Of course, we would welcome as many of those people into the industry as possible. But I believe that we would attract a higher calibre of applicant if they knew that they had to pass a minimum standard in order to succeed.
“As the law currently stands, becoming an estate agent requires no qualifications and no experience. As a result, it’s often seen as a transient job, rather than a professional career. But adding the kudos of a qualification means that some people who otherwise would dismiss the opportunity, might consider it after all.”
Hesse believes that it is sensible for agents to be subject to the same scrutiny as staff in other sectors, where employees must be adequately qualified before being allowed to deal with members of the public.
“As well as higher standards across the industry as a whole, the added bonus is that we are more likely to attract the quality of applicant who sees a qualification as recognition of their skills. Sadly, in the past, it’s precisely those highly talented individuals who haven’t even given estate agency a second thought.”