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Interview: experienced agents show increased appetite for training and qualifications

Since the announcement of the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA), an increasing amount of Principle, Partners and Directors (PPD) from the sector are stepping up to the plate and undertaking their Level 4 Propertymark Qualification to be a cut above their competitors. Here, ARLA Propertymark Regional Executive, Darshan Sunger, shares his experience of his qualification journey.

As a PPD who has reached the top within an agency, why did you get qualified?

Many PPDs like myself may be wondering what’s the purpose of going through this whole exercise, especially when they have been practitioners for decades in some cases. I have even had conversations at Propertymark’s Regional Meetings and on webinars on this topic.


Our industry is faced with consistent changes in legislation and what’s required of agents in order to stay compliant is constantly evolving. In my opinion, no matter your experience, you’d be surprised by what you learn by brushing up on your knowledge through a Propertymark Qualification.

I must confess, I was a little taken back when the recommendations of RoPA were announced in 2019 but against all odds, I researched into this deeper and I decided to go down the path of getting qualified. My personal experience in my quest to achieve my qualifications was that everything is possible to attain in life. If you set yourself bitesized goals and celebrate those small wins, before you know it, you will have accomplished your mission.

It’s a huge learning curve and I managed to get a lot out of the study materials and sitting the exams. It’s also your way of demonstrating to your clients that you have the expertise and qualifications to provide the very best advice, setting you apart from your competitors.

What did you achieve?

My time invested in studying to accomplish the qualifications paid off when I successfully passed the Level 3 Award in Residential Letting & Property Management in 2019 and more recently my Level 4 Certificate in Residential Letting & Property Management in August 2021.

What it now means is that I have the relevant skills and qualifications to meet the set standards when Regulation kicks in, and it’s a matter of when not if.

I have been an ARLA Propertymark member and working practitioner for over 21 years and have always had the letters like all members with MARLA after my name, but this achievement has allowed me to attain fellowship of ARLA Propertymark which is a badge of honour I wear proudly.

A point to remember is that once you attain these qualifications, they are not subject to membership of any organisation, these are yours to keep throughout your career in the industry.

Where did you find the time to study for your qualification?

A question that I had been asked many times over is when I found the time to study and run my own business. Simple, good managers and businesses should always practice having effective time management skills. I am fortunate to have a good business model and a great team that work in Three Oaks, they subscribed to my challenge of getting a qualification at my age and I also wanted to set an example to my team, “do as I do, not what I tell you”.

I set my goal by booking the exam and setting a date to get through my study materials, I allocated a minimum of two hours study period every other day initially for the Level 3 Award in Residential Letting & Property Management and then two hours every day for Level 4.

My advice is you need to be away from your office, otherwise you will be interrupted without fail. I found that coming home after 3pm worked well for me and I would spend time in my dining room which gave me the time and space I needed.

A day before the exams, I found it a good time to revise at the crack of dawn at 6am for about two hours, going through bullet points and ensuring that I had covered the exam criteria.

If you choose to go down this path, I wish you the very best of luck as after all “knowledge is power”.

  • icon

    Actually, that RoPA will accept the Propertymark qualifications is not a given, and I, as a tutor for Propertymark Standards, wonder why Propertymark believe it is?
    I personally struggle, not because we cannot get Learners through the End Point Assessment, but because I do not believe the Level 3 or Level 4 prove any real competency in being able to be a knowledgeable Estate Agent as they are both poorly conceived, woolly and vague. I for one (I do have 30 years experience as an Estate Agent), will be shocked beyond measure if RoPA accept it as anything different.

  • Chris Arnold

    "Knowledge will give you power" , but as Bruce Lee intones, "Character will give you respect."
    Here's the problem with relying on competence as a differentiator. Vendors/landlords make decisions emotionally before the logical left-side brain kicks in. If they don't like you, it doesn't matter how qualified you profess to be.

  • icon

    Agreed, but at least prove you can do the job.


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