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Compulsory agents’ qualifications will help recruit better people

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.”

  • Carl Smales

    So which qualifications will be required?

    We have heard all of the above for the last couple of months but we still don’t have any direction on the exact qualifications required.

    Will our existing NAEA automatically make us all eligible?

    Will there be a new ‘industry qualification?’

    Anyone who has the NAEA qualifications will testify that it can take longer than two years to obtain. If the entire industry starts to obtain the qualifications now, will there be enough time to complete them before the deadline?

    I’ve called PropertyMark for some direction and I was told that they didn’t know.

    Happy days!

  • Simon Shinerock

    The recommendations are aimed at introducing a system based on financial services regulation. This regime resulted in the number of financial consultants reducing by approximately 95%. This idea that more people will take this qualification before going into the business is ridiculous, naive and absurd. A form of simple qualification taken on a one off basis like a driving licence is a good idea, the full regulatory works including continuing professional development, supervisory obligations and reason why letters will destroy the business as we know it. Those agents welcoming this should beware what they wish for

  • icon

    I passed my ARLA in 2007, I have been told I need to resit my exam as my subscription expired, a combination of factors, changed address and company, however ARLA had my email address which never changed go figure! What makes this worse is I have worked with a number of people who have there ARLA qualification and are absolutely awful at there job, to the point I would never use them to rent a property out.

    I am fully aware that there are a lot of very good agents who have there qualification, unfortunately it just tells me that you can read a manual and sit an exam, so lets get students in who have just left university or college because they can pass a test.

    **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**

    What about experience and knowledge you can only learn and gain from doing the job for years, I am all for getting rid of the agents who give our industry a bad name, but this wont do that at all.

    Its just another way to help destroy an industry that is already struggling, the good agent's will leave as they are fed up with the way it is going.

    It would be interesting to see what these ministers and action groups, would have to say if they spent some time in an agency, dealing with a deposit refund, difficult landlord or tenant, i can assure you none of them would last, for some reason the public think they can talk to agents like they are scum, who are just trying to do there job, I wonder if these same people would go into there local doctors, school or solicitors and start shouting, fretening members of staff?

  • Steven Heath

    What happens to the Estate Agent who has been a very good one for 10 to 30 years , just sack them ? . Qualification Specialising in Estate Agency which can be passed with extra training but just saying 3 A levels . A lot of people like myself in the industry for over 40 years didn't do A levels , we went straight into work experience starting at the bottom working your way to the top .

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    • 20 August 2019 10:48 AM

    Would it really matter if the profession reduced by 95%!?
    Surely that would leave a hardcore of highly profitable agents!

    Inevitably to get a piece of the pie qualifications would be required..
    The world is a better place for having 95% fewer unqualified financial consultants.
    The sector could easily cope with 50% of agents closing down.
    There are simply far too many.
    A cull by qualifications is required.
    Of course a large amount of 'grandfathering' will be required initially but this tapers off so that even the grandfather has to obtain the required qualifications.
    This is what happened in the Road Transport Industry.

    Simon Shinerock

    It would to the 95%

  • Vilesh Rew

    "...this may apply to existing staff irrespective of their extensive experience." hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha***breath****hahahahahahahaha. So, the 21 year old with an A level in PE is better suited than the company director with 35 years experience in the business.

  • icon

    More BS from companies that keep lobbying the government in order to support their existence. So I become a Chartered Accountant and 17 years as an Estate Agent director and I now need to go back to pass a two bit, trash exam?. How funny. For the first time ever I agree with Simon Shinerock and that 95% won't pass, wouldn't have the time, can't be bothered or their employers won't pay as they can't afford more BS legislation. This industry has turned into a farce.

  • Matthew Payne

    This isnt new news, the Working Group havent met since May, this is a piece on Anthonys views, so not much has changed since the last article. If measures are introduced by mid 2021 that wont be the deadline for everyone to have passed for all the reasons stated above and others. Legislation may be in place by then, albeit, there is only so much time the House has to debate anything, and Brexit will dominate parliamentary time for the forseeable future, so many less important bills will get shelved until time allows as they have done since 2016, we will see if this is one. Look how long the Tenant Fees Act took from public announcement of intent to enactment. If it does come to fruition there would need to be a 2-3 year lead time not only to allow businesses and candidates time to prepare, but the organisations who will be approved to issue these qualifications to a potential 50,000 agents.


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