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New Protections to Drive Out Rogue Estate Agents

April 10, 2018, 8:00 AM
  • Agents will now have to have a professional qualification
  • Currently there are no limits on who can be one
  • Plan will try to put “consumers back in the driving seat”
A new qualification for estate agents is being designed to protect buyers from rogue agents. Image: Getty

Estate agents will now be required to hold a professional qualification, in a plan to protect consumers from rogues in the industry.

The new measures will also require agents to disclose any commission they get for referring clients to solicitors, surveyors, and mortgage brokers.

The Government will also encourage the wider use of voluntary reservation agreements to help prevent sales falling through, and tackle ‘gazumping’- where would-be buyers lose out to a rival bidder even after having an offer accepted.

The measures were announced by the Government today, and are aimed at speeding up the process of buying a property, and to encourage more people to get on the property market.

Housing Secretary Sajid Javid said, “Buying a home is one of the biggest and more important purchases someone will make in their life.

“But for far too long, buyers and sellers have been trapped in a stressful system of fuller delays and uncertainty.

“So we’re going to put the consumers back in the driving seat.

“We will require estate agents to hold a qualification so that people are no longer at risk from a minority of ‘rogue agents’ and can trust the process when buying or selling their home.”

In another attempt to make the housing sector more fair, a bill has been proposed that will cap tenants’ deposits to five weeks of rent.

There are around 20,000 estate agents businesses across the country and currently anyone can practice as an estate agent.

What Protections Will Be Given?

The plans include:

Setting a timeline for local authority searches so buyers get the information they need within 10 days.

Requiring managing agents and freeholders to provide up-to-date lease information for a set fee, and to an agreed timetable.

Strengthening the National Trading Standards estate agency team so they can carry out more enforcement activity, including banning rogue operators.

Mark Hayward, the chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said, “We particularly welcome the commitment to further regulation- we have long argued that estate agents should be recognised as professionals, this is an important step towards achieving this and we look forward to working with the Government.”

It is hoped that the industry will be brought up to professional standards, similar to conveyancers, solicitors, and surveyors.

A working group will also be set up to look at developing ‘innovative digital solutions’ to speed up the home buying and selling process.

Do you think having a qualification for estate agents is a good idea? Let us know in the comments.

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