Architect of industry reforms: ‘We are not throwing experienced agents out of the industry’

Mastermind of agency reforms Lord Best has defended his proposed regulations, insisting there is no intention to throw agents with years of experience out of the sector.

The peer, who chaired the Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA), said he had received letters from concerned agents who were worried that their decades in the industry will count for nothing when new qualification requirements are introduced. Without them, agents will not be allowed to practise.

The RoPA report has already ruled out grandfathering and the peer read out one such letter at yesterday’s Guild of Property Professionals’ annual conference.

In it, the agent said her clients were happy with her and would be disappointed that she would have to close as she feared she would fail the exams.

Lord Best said: “It is not the case that just because your clients say you are doing a good job that you are.

“You have to know the stuff as an agent, not as a client.

“It will not be that difficult if you already know your stuff.

“The exams will be phased in with separate qualifications for different elements.

“If you fail the exam that doesn’t mean you will be thrown out. You will just need to resit it.”

He described the exams as equivalent to A-levels, which he said “aren’t too difficult”.

Agents also heard from James Munro, head of the National Trading Standards Estate and Lettings Agency Team, which has launched a survey tracking compliance with rules on disclosing referral fees.

He said: “This is not a campaign to ban referral fees.

“The Government wants them to be transparent: that means you tell people you are getting a referral fee and how much you are getting – it is the latter where there is an issue.”

Munro also reminded agents they must disclose all material information in listings including tenure terms, and added that they could one day have to include pollution levels.

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33 Comments

  1. David Clark

    Lord Best said: “It is not the case that just because your clients say you are doing a good job that you are.” 

    Spoken like a true public servant or politician. I’m afraid public service is the only place you can get away with doing a rubbish job and it have no consequence on your job, industry or earning ability.  Do a rubbish job even as a junior negotiator in the private sector and clients/customers go elsewhere.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I think proper qualifications will be a good thing but don’t talk **** to us and get on with letting the industry know how to get qualified and some time scales.

    Changing the subject to referral fees how on earth is this going to work when Mr & Mrs Gubbins ask ” what solicitor would you recommend? Oh, and what surveyor should I contact?”

    The response will have to be X, Y or Z but firm X gives me the odd probate job, firm Y gives the office a case of wine at Christmas and firm Z sends us £150.00 on completion. Surveyors, well this guy buys me a pint in the pub now and then and this guy sends us vouchers to go shopping with.  What are we making the referral for? To make the sale happen so we earn what we’re in business for. As a company, we are 100% not interested in securing any of these fees but what message does qualifying the recommendation do? Easiest way round this is no recommendations – use Google. Now that is a can of worms!

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    1. PeeBee

      “Easiest way round this is no recommendations – use Google.”
       
      No, Mr Clark.  I would suggest that the “easiest way round this” is to recommend good people because they do an excellent job for their clients – and take nothing whatsoever in return for that recommendation.
       
      It’s what I’ve done for years.  Trust me – it works.

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      1. Anonymous Agent

        Why is it that only our industry can’t accept commission from referring good complementary companies to their clients?

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        1. Jay2Oh61

          I popped into Tesco’s yesterday and demanded to know what they pay Kelloggs for the corn flakes I wanted. They wouldn’t be transparent and tell me! It’s an outrage that they make a mark up!

          ….something must be done!

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          1. Local Independent

            So… Like te tenant fee ban… …Will mortgage advisors no longer be able to get paid by the lender (proc fee) and charge teh client an upfront fee… …Of course not because it’s not sexy anymore to bash the financial services that got us into the last recession – will agents get the next Government bail out? Of course not.

            And what about PB and the like that get ridiculous commisions from their lawyers in return for tying them into credit arrangements and deffered fees.

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          2. ARC

            The most off the mark analogy that PIE has seen for sometime and that’s not an easy accolade to get.

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        2. SLF

          Because you refer based on what you’ll receive and not how good the solicitor is.

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          1. htsnom79

            And those that do that are either  a) Corporate and they are compelled to or b) insolvent because risking 000s to gain 00s is commercially not a good thing to do.

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  2. ValueCounts31

    Lord Best is absolutely right. This reform will be great for our industry.

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  3. Jay2Oh61

    As an industry ‘oldie’ I have no issue whatsoever with attaining required qualifications… HOWEVER…. this won’t even scratch the surface in ‘cleaning up’ the PRS. The elephant is the room is private managed landlords who MUST be forced to comply with the same regulation as any letting agent. Alternatively, they MUST have their property managed by an agent who is. Fail to implement this Lord Best, and I’m sorry, but you aren’t competent enough to head any further regulation of the PRS. Please wake up!

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    1. PeeBee

      “HOWEVER…. this won’t even scratch the surface in ‘cleaning up’ the PRS.”
      It won’t scratch the surface of dishonesty in Agency either.  Ability to pass exams that “aren’t too difficult” (credit: Lord Best) isn’t a guarantee that the person with a “qualification” in Estate Agency won’t run off into the sunset with the family jewels one day.
      OR that they will carry out their work in an honest fashion.

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      1. Jay2Oh61

        It is illegal for an Agent not to have client money protection insurance. I’ve had it for 30 years. It’s not difficult for a landlord to work our the right letting agent to use, unless driven by the cheapest; a trap many fall into. If you pay peanuts… as the saying goes. 
        People need to take some responsibility for their own choices. 

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  4. J1

    Bring it on

    The sooner regulation comes in the better

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    1. PeeBee

      Wonder how long it will be after ‘Q-Day’ before the first prosecution of a “qualified” Agent?
      Bring.
      It.
      On.

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      1. Jay2Oh61

        Times that by a thousand for private Landlords!

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  5. fixedwingtofly

    23 years in the business and can’t wait to get out and retire. As usual the minority spoil it for the many, and bingo we all have to adapt to the call of politicians and busy bodies, who think they know best, and side with the loudest caller. Take shelter as an example, it has decimated the morale of independent letting agents, who are all now trying to sell their business to the major players, who know they can pay a much reduced rate for desperate sellers. Then we have the climate brigade calling for electric cars. Grant Shapps who owns an Avgas 100l fueled airplane, now says the whole car industry must abandon petrol, diesel, even hybrid and go electric by 2032, all because of the likes of a 16 year girl who is a climate change influencer, Get real. The upshot is lots of good people who are baby boomers retiring, and the new generation of thumb clicking non literature/ cant string a sentence together, without googling the meaning of life, now will be the next estate agents. If you are like myself meeting prospective young buyers, just think of the stupid questions you get asked on viewings these days, it used to be called common sense and take a risk.

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    1. PRman

      Get real? After 23 years, expect some change. It happens everywhere, even in estate agency! And as for the 16 year old girl who is currently the world’s star influencer on climate change you had better listen to her because most others with more than one brain cell have already realised that she is right. Those same people are your future clients, so get on message. By the way, have you checked whether or not the plane is owned by Shapps or is actually the property of his alter ego, Michael Green?

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    2. GibsAgent

      OK boomer

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    3. Anonymous Coward

      Galadriel: “The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air. Much that once was is lost, for none now live who remember it. It began with the forging of the Great Rings. Three were given to the Elves, immortal, wisest and fairest of all beings. Seven to the Dwarf lords, great miners and craftsmen of the mountain halls. And nine, nine rings were gifted to the race of men, who, above all else, desire power. But they were, all of them, deceived, for another Ring was made. In the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom, the Dark Lord Sauron forged in secret a master Ring, to control all others. And into this Ring he poured his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life. One Ring to rule them all.”     The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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      1. AgencyInsider

        Genius quote AC.

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  6. MarkJ

    Whilst i dont disagree with the concept I have just looked at the RoPA recommendations via the propertymark site

    https://www.propertymark.co.uk/working-in-the-industry/regulation-of-property-agents.aspx

    3/ All customer-facing staff employed within residential agency business should hold a qualification at Level 3 or above.

    4/ All company directors and management agents should be qualified to a minimum of Level 4.

     

    Since Level 3 is equivalent to an A level potentially some agency staff may struggle.  In the local area staff are already in short supply and salaries and working hours are not the best by comparison to other jobs available .Especially is commission is not that forthcoming….

    Im not sure what a Level 4 qualification is equivalent to but it seems ironic that I can open a Ltd company in adifferent field via companies house website for £20 and become a director with absolutely no qualifications and dupe the public as I please.

     

     

     

     

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    1. IWONDER36

      You can become a member of the cabinet, or the shadow cabinet and hold an important role such as secretary of state without job specific training or qualification, then be reshuffled into another equally important role overnight, even though countless TV interviews have shown you to be a raving lunatic with no moral compass. Then go on to the House of Lords because your mate said you can, once there, you can decide what qualifications someone should have to do their job.

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  7. Hillofwad71

    The RICS and NAEA have spent many years  setting out relevant  syllabuses for qualifications which are recognised  by the public and business why is it deemed necessary to go outside of these to create another body

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    1. Woodhen

      I was a Fellow of RICS for 35 years and Scottish Gov would not accept my qualifications without a bit of paper which was not around 40 years ago when I qualified

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  8. Eyereaderturnedposter12

     

    From a lettings perspective…

    IMHO obtainingqualifications are the least of the industry’s issues at present…

    The natural removal of agents is happening due to the punitive measures incessantly being introduced by this absolute disgrace of a conservative Government. Not to worry Lord Best, you may be a little late to the party in any case…Mr Osbourne had put the wheels in motion some time ago…Lettings Agents, with an ever thinning base of Landlords to service (as BTL offers at best, meagre returns), probably won’t need your suggested qualifications anyway…because in a couple of years, there’ll be so few Private Landlords, those  remaining Agents will only be able to service a very small niche.

    Lord Best is effectively the postman who brings the gunshot victim, a higher than expected gas bill. The Gas bill isn’t the problem, when you’re trying to recover from a shooting

     

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  9. David Clark

    Yes and that’s what we’ve always done and yes it does work. That wasn’t the point I was making – more that we’ll now have to say I recommend these people because they are good and, trust me, I don’t get anything back. Trust me, I’m an estate agent! The fact you have to qualify every recommendation is the issue.  Yet another case of whack every single business rather than go after the ones abusing the system. Tenant fee ban?

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  10. AndSotheStoryBegan

    And when those hucksters, masquerading as qualified agents, keep doing what they’ve always done, what then? Agents with requisite character are far preferable to some flimsy certificate.

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  11. APE

    Will there be Government funding for this?

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  12. Woodhen

    If it is anything like Scotland you do not need to worry the bar was set so low anybody and their auntie can pass the basic exams….including the rogues who are still operating. Now its up to the Local Authority…..who have no resources to police the industry and tenants who have no clue of the new regulations to make a complaint

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  13. International

    Time to retire

    equivalent to A-levels, which he said “aren’t too difficult”.

    Well that counts me out, despite running two highly successful multi-branch companies and having provide employment for over 700 people in the process, with no court actions or major complaints. I never even passed my “O” levels !

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  14. GPL

    Regulation of Property Agents (RoPA)

     

    So….. to ensure that no particular business suffers any form of governmental discrimination, are we guaranteed that all similar businesses are regulated. Thereafter the government then expands its regulation net to cover other other business sectors.

     

    It’s odd…. a huge financial collapse, evidence of wrongdoing and yet very few of those responsible are held to account? A little bit of scandal, someone steps down, takes a golden goodbye and shuffles off to a comfortable retirement with a choice of part-time directorships.

     

    We look at 3rd world countries ravaged by political masters, dictators, corruption, greed ……and yet we see a different form of it from our political masters at home ……professional, polished, light touch, no-one supposedly comes to harm? Yet, that’s not the true picture …..the underbelly of politics/governing/greed is thick with grime …..it’s just carefully hidden away, hushed over, a blind eye turned, a nod, a wink, a little “lift-up” between mutual friends.

     

    I work my b@ckside off for my clients, because it’s my work ethic, reputation, honesty at stake …..my clients pay me to work for them, and they rightly expect that I do my best solely for them, they expect to be able to trust what I say and do ……and my career (and no doubt many others in this industry) is built around those simply understood morals. Yes, I know….. others don’t subscribe to the same morality.

     

    Sadly, there is no qualification in “morality”. Today we witness the “swing door” of politics, in/out, replaced, a curtain lifted and the next act begins.

     

    ……and has been mentioned in this thread and many others threads – at what point do the public demand that anyone working in public office is qualified. It simply can’t be right that the closed shop of government/house of lords etc dishes out regulation/requirement for qualification etc, yet it basks in it’s protected kingdom of “We rule, the peasants follow”.

     

    Regulation, Rules…… Society needs them, Business needs them….. it’s the way that they are cobbled together by part-time politicians with random working groups and then badly applied ……resulting in poor regulation and poor rules, and those that play outside those continue to do so ……and the wheel keeps spinning, until the next bright reform idea plops onto a table …….and gets hashed, bashed into something, and made lawful.

     

    We worry about the environment? We should apply they level of worry about society.

     

    Now, forgive me….. an email popped in from a client who fully understands what I do, what I am going to do for them, and trusts that I will work solely in their best interests, and they want me/my company to market/sell their home ……it will be my pleasure to work for them and uphold the traditions of “real” Estate Agency ……no new rules or regulation required!

     

    To all the “real” Estate Agents” out there ……have a Good Day/end to your Week …….keep doing what you are doing ……You know why you are better than the “usual suspects”.

     

     

     

     

     

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  15. CountryLass

    So, will we have to tell clients that solicitors send us some wine or chocolates at Christmas?

    What about with Lettings? My favourite gas engineer pops in a couple of times a year with a few bottles of wine, and does a free boiler service for all the staff once a year. I use them as they are quick, efficient, reasonably priced and do a good job. The rest of it just means I like them a bit more, but I have no problems with going elsewhere if I think they are charging too much or are not able to get a job done quickly. Do I have to declare that?

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  16. Itsallajoke

    They dont know what to clobber the industry with next. Its like all the new lettings legislation, its going to cause mayhem, .. but when all the people are homeless on the streets / rents up through the roof for those who are left / agencies closing, these government meddlers will shuffle off with no comeback…. and its going to be the same with Best”s proposals…. chaos.

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