A new license aimed at protecting home buyers and sellers has been launched by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) at the House of Commons.
Housing minister Grant Shapps has hailed the new license as a “symbolic moment” for the industry and expects it to inject greater confidence and movement in to the market.
At present there are no formal industry regulations in place giving anyone the freedom to start up their own estate agency business regardless of his or her qualifications or market experience and knowledge. Regulatory bodies do exist however membership is optional and comes at price, which some agents choose to avoid.
The new license will help to protect consumers from the industry’s cowboys by enabling them to identify professional, regulated estate agents that are committed to operating within stringent codes of conduct and delivering a service that, at very least, meets the recommended minimum industry standards.
Local independent estate agency chain Sutton Kersh have been members of the NAEA for a number of years.
Phil Lawton, director at Sutton Kersh comments “I am delighted about the launch of the new license by the NAEA. As it stands anyone can set up an estate agency. You wouldn’t get into an unlicensed taxi and this same logic should be applied when buying or selling a house, after all it is one of the biggest transactions you will partake in over your lifetime.
This new license acts as a badge of honesty and trust and is one that Sutton Kersh will wear with pride along side their Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors accreditation. We firmly believe we owe it to our customers to be members of these schemes to ensure they have peace of mind that they are dealing with professionals with up-to-date knowledge of the industry.
In the past, not enough awareness has been raised of such schemes. By gaining the support of the House of Commons, I am hopeful that consumers will become more educated about the recommended industry standards helping to rid the marketplace of cowboys and allowing professional agents to gain greater recognition.”
The NAEA currently supports 10,000 property professionals throughout the UK. The new license will be available to members who:
Members that break the strict codes of conduct will be penalised including fines that can be levied up to £5,000 for every rule that is breached and even expulsion from the scheme can be exercised.
There continues to be much disagreement regarding the lack of any formal legislation in the market as in the case of solicitors and financial advisors in the property-buying industry. Many perceive it as being balmy, whilst others strongly believe there is no need for regulation.
Phil Lawton continues "It is astonishing really that there is no formal legislation in the industry given the value of the transactions involved. It is particularly important in the current climate that consumers seek advice from professionals with sound knowledge and experience to ensure they are well advised. We are professionals and have nothing to hide by shying away from these governing bodies."