Estate agents would be forced to finish higher education under Labour plans

Estate agents would have to go back to school and achieve minimum level of qualifications as part of Labour plans to drive cowboy operators out of the housing market.

Labour’s shadow housing minister Matthew Pennycook has tabled an amendment to incoming housing reforms which would require all estate agents to have at least one A-level and all directors of estate agencies to have an undergraduate degree.

If passed, the rules would need to be enacted within 24 months of the bill becoming law. Some 102 pages of amendments to the 133-page “Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill” are currently being debated by MPs.

Matthew Pennycook

Although the proposed changed are unlikely to gain support from the majority of MPs In the House of Commons, it does offer an early indication of Labour’s position when it comes to improving standards in the estate agency sector.

Propertymark has long been calling for “a properly regulated industry” where agents can be “trusted and respected” by consumers.

Similar rules are already in place in Scotland, while more stringent requirements are in place for estate agents in many other countries.



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  1. Scottgunn

    Phew I got an ‘E’ in Media Studies 22 years ago so I’ll be ok

  2. Robert_May

    Estate agents are already heavily regulated by common law, the Estate Agents Act, and various legal precedents. These regulations make it difficult for unethical agents to thrive. Adding more rules tends to burden the reputable agents who are already dealing with these less trustworthy competitors. The suggestion to require agents to have higher qualifications than required to be an MP seems unlikely to make a significant difference. In most local markets, a handful of top agents usually handle the majority of transactions, leaving others to compete for the remaining business. This competitive environment naturally weeds out the less capable agents. Therefore, top agents don’t really need more regulations to maintain their edge.

    Moreover, I doubt that degrees in fields like surf science, viticulture, embroidery, or floral design would significantly enhance the professionalism in an industry that effectively self-regulates through quality service rather than stringent rules.

    1. PJMQ1

      There are no requirements to have an under graduate degree to be a director of a care home or of a montessori school so why an estate agents?

      As you say, how can it be fair that someone with a degree in floral design and an IQ of 100 be able to set up a business and yet someone with 20 years agency experience and with an iq of 150 cannot?

    2. jan-byers

      “these regulations make it difficult for unethical agents to thrive”
      Utter rubbish
      I havde had agents offer me cash fees
      Ask for money for a piece of land
      Lie about aplethora of things
      I have worked in agencies with agents who are totally unetical
      An A level or a degree will not stop this of course

      1. Malcolm Egerton

        But it might result in improved spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation ?

        1. morrisseysillegitimateburger

          Beautifully put Malcolm.

      2. morrisseysillegitimateburger

        Jan, why do you follow this page? You always seem very angry towards the industry. Or is that how you get your jollies, waiting to moan about estate agency? If this is how you conducted yourself in your time in the industry, no wonder you weren’t very good at it, and subsequently very angry about it. Why don’t you go to The Daily Mail comments section and shout in there, they are more your sort of people.

  3. PJMQ1

    This is absurd.

  4. Landlordinsider

    Propertymark once again totally out of kilter with members on this – rather than pointing out how heavily the sector is regulated, they pile more on. For one reason: their own financial interest.

  5. Typhoon

    Propertymark has long been calling for “a properly regulated industry” where agents can be “trusted and respected” by consumers.

    I am shocked and insulted that our governing body who know that most agents are trusted and respected, could dare to utter such a statement. Sad reflection of the support it offers the sector

    1. West end pheasant

      Are Propertymark effectively saying at present agents CANNOT be trusted and respected? I’m sure that will go down well with the members they are currently rinsing fees from.

    2. A W

      For clarity, Propertymark are NOT a governing body… they are a membership body. There is absolutely no requirement to be a member.

  6. Seeing_the_Positive03

    Thankfully unethical cowboys are incapable of getting A levels. Give me a break!

  7. Another House

    Yet another completely useless bit of input from politicians trying to sound like they have some idea about the industry. As a someone heading into their mid 50’s with no degree but having done agency and run my own business perfectly well I do find it strange that I may be required to go to university. I wonder what degree I shall take to assist me to become trusted and respected agent? Maybe golf course management!

  8. Simonr6608

    Given that where I am we have had two firms of solicitors shut down due to fraud by the principal, who I assume gained a law degree, how would this plan ensure a better quality of agents. I finished school 40ish years ago, I didn’t do A level or go to university, I do now need to go back and do A levels?? How on earth are these people in charge of running the country and creating legislation.

  9. richardcopus

    Putting estate agents onto the same level as solicitors and accountants. Must be a bad thing! We are salesmen not professionals – or which are we? If we want to be professionals, then a GCSE (not A Level) for negotiators has to be the right way to go and a RELEVANT degree or equivalent for PPDs has to be right. However, if we are purely salesmen selling people’s most important asset, then forget it. Every other major country requires their estate agents to hold qualifications that relate to the industry and their fees are double to quadruple ours. Res ipsa loquitur!

  10. CountryLass

    Leaving aside the obvious flaws that ‘cowboys’ cannot get A levels, I have a big concern with this.

    Estate Agency, and Letting, are Service industries as well as Sales. Not everyone flourishes in school, they don’t do well on exams and in some cases have never been taught to learn. However, they can have fantastic soft skills, the stuff that cannot be taught. So, someone who may have been unable to attend college, university or 6th form will not be able to work in an industry where they have every chance of excelling with the skills they already have, in an industry that will push their literature, language and basic maths skills to improve…

  11. Neil Robinson

    What a load of absolute ****.

    Many people I know – myself included – started in estate agency at the age of 17-18 because we didn’t want to go to uni and wanted to earn money and build a career instead

    Or as I put it “I’m not doing another 3 years in school”

    Literally one person out of my entire staff have been to uni. None of them fancied it.

    And I very much doubt that even the idiotic Labour Party would want to put thousands of experienced estate agents out of work because they don’t have a degree in flower arranging or whatever it is.

    1. simonwilkinson73

      Completely agree. If this were to happen there would be hardly anyone with any real experience able to sell a house!

      I think they should ask the same question of MP’s too – ethical ???

  12. Woodentop

    This should be a wake up call about who Labour are when it comes to running the country. Utter nonsense and lunacy. How about they ALL set an example and have to have the qualifications themselves that relate to what they do in Parliament.

    Propertymark …… do not represent me, they have their own agenda when it comes to opinions and always have done.

  13. simonwilkinson73

    I hope this is the ‘wake up call’ to the Property Profession that we need self-regulation now.

  14. htsnom79

    If you could take an A level in emotional intelligence maybe………..

  15. KByfield04

    What a waste of time. Many enter agency after GCSE’s to pursue a ‘non-academic’ career path- not sure how mandating a single A-Level will improve things and it will stifle entrants. As for a degree for owner/directors- that’ll make sure they are knowledgeable and ethical. My BA in stage acting means I’ll meet the standards- WTF!?
    Let’s not ring-fence funds for proactive enforcement or beef up NTSELAT let’s enact an utterly pointless piece of legislation. Ground-breaking stuff there gang!


    This will never happen.

    What is required is a licensing process for estate agency Directors and an apprenticeship style course for employees. Something simple that covers the main points of honesty, integrity, Material Information, basic property law and conveyancing.

    The point about Solicitors and having offices closed and being struck off is that this is a consequence of being regulated not something having A levels or a degree can prevent. There is also a Compensation Fund and Professional Indemnity Insurance so those who have suffered loss can be compensated

    The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 potentially protect consumers but only if estate agents adhere to them. Being licensed brings with it an obligation to update one’s knowledge and understanding.

    Breaching rules means a licence to practice can be removed.

  17. richardcopus

    Incredible diatribes! Not one person has commented on my remark that virtually every other civilised country has minimum entry qualifications for PPDs, some which are degree standard but most A level equivalent and all of them are able to charge much more than we do in fees – and are also respected a bit more, strangely!

    1. Robert_May

      We are all terribly sorry for not replying to your post, Mr. Copus! Academic qualifications stifle innovation; people learn from teachers and masters what these learned individuals believe is the correct approach, drawing from books where everything is written down. Exam-based education often becomes a test of memory rather than a measure of intelligence or ability. If you need examples of how academic qualifications aren’t a guaranteed path to a perfect world, just look at the RICS disciplinary hearing website. It clearly shows that degree-educated individuals are committing the same wrongs and ills as their unqualified counterparts.

      1. richardcopus

        Mr May! Your point taken and I agree with it mostly. We are basically salesmen in the twenty-first century. My main observation was that in countries which have a meaningful minimum qualification by exam the commission rates are a lot higher.

        1. Robert_May

          Transitioning from oilwell cement design to estate agency, I completed five rigorous three-hour exams, expecting that these qualifications would enhance my career prospects. However I found that these qualifications didn’t significantly increase my earnings or commission.

          The key issue is that in estate agency, practical skills like networking, local market knowledge, and sales ability often outweigh formal qualifications in terms of impact on success and income. Additionally, the market tends to be dominated by a few top agents in any area, whose success relies more on their networks and reputation than on academic credentials.

          Raising entry barriers, such as more stringent qualifications, doesn’t drastically alter this landscape. The top agents continue to dominate due to their established advantages.

          In essence, while qualifications are important, in agency, success is more intricately linked to networking, market understanding, and reputation, rather than just academic achievements.


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