You wouldn’t let someone unqualified service your car – nor should you let an unaccredited estate agent sell your house, say Jan Hÿtch
I write this, sitting in the board room of Arbon House in Warwick, the head office of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA). I’m awaiting the start of the board meeting of the National Federation of Property Professionals (NFoPP), which sits above NAEA and ARLA, along with a number of other property-related bodies.
It occurs to me, not for the first time, that I am about to be joined by some of the industry’s most highly regarded property people, and I wonder what it is that makes us want to take time out of our already busy lives in order to make a contribution to the professional body that governs our industry. That each of us has been elected by our fellow members is both an honour and a responsibility, which none of us takes lightly.
There are many routes that have brought us to this boardroom (not just the A14/M6!), but the common reason we are all here is that we share a passionate desire to improve the industry in which we work, both in terms of professional standards and client care.
Estate Agency has, along with car salespeople (and bankers, of late!), been the butt of many jokes over the years. Yet in the USA, Realtors – as they are known – are one of the most highly regarded professions, above lawyers and medics. In the UK, it is an unlicensed and largely unregulated business, except for those who sign up to voluntary licensing and join a professional body like NAEA or RICS, to demonstrate their commitment to being the best they can be in their profession.
The NFoPP board, along with and those agents who have volunteered to practise their trade to the highest standards by becoming NAEA members, aim to raise the standards of estate agency in the UK.
Most people would think twice about having their new car serviced by an unqualified ‘mechanic’, or their gas boiler serviced by someone with no plumbing or gas engineering experience. I’d be nervous about taking financial advice from someone with no qualifications, and I certainly wouldn’t allow a builder with no credentials to start about my house with a lump hammer to make the alterations he’d sketched on the back of a beer mat.
So why do we even think of employing an unlicensed, unqualified person who professes to be an estate agent to handle the sale of what for most of us is our most valuable asset, the very roof over our head?
Most of those we help out of a badly handled attempted sale admit to choosing an agent either because ‘they were the cheapest’, ‘they seemed nice at the start’ or ‘they seemed keen to get my house on their books’. In one case the seller was set to lose thousands because of some flawed advice from an over enthusiastic but hopelessly naïve young man who, unknown to them, had only started in the industry two weeks earlier.
My advice is, and has always been, to check that your estate agent is qualified to a nationally recognised level before you let them play fast and loose with your home. This might mean checking that they carry the letters MNAEA or FNAEA after their name, or MRICS/FRICS, denoting both formal qualifications and experience. They may be one qualified individual employed in a firm, or like my own firm, the whole business could be NAEA licensed.
Either way, if you choose not to employ an accredited and qualified estate agent, you should make your own investigations in order to satisfy yourself that you know what you’re getting into. With no professional body overseeing the business, who would you go to if things go wrong?
Posted By AndyNewman on Tuesday, January 10th, 2012
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