An agent experienced in period properties has warned that the rules surrounding listed buildings and conservation areas are a minefield waiting for some inexperienced agent to “step on and seriously hurt themselves”.
Richard Copus said: “Most estate agents come across listed buildings and conservation areas, but how much do they know about the law surrounding them and what owners can and cannot do to their homes?
“With the advent of Consumer Protection Regulations, Trading Standards are becoming more and more aware of the problems associated with people buying both listed buildings and unlisted buildings in conservation areas, and who have been misadvised about what they can do to them.
“Listed buildings have their own particular regulations, and houses in conservation areas, whatever their build type, are bound by surprisingly strict rules.
“Agents really need to be clear about their obligations in this field.
“It’s frightening how many still think that home owners can do almost anything to a listed building as long as they don’t touch the part mentioned in the official listing.
“Article 4s are becoming more and more common as they enable planning authorities to enforce conservation area legislation more easily, and these automatically withdraw permitted development rights, even if the property is a bog-standard 1960s semi, something which definitely affects a buyer’s transactional decision.”
Copus, who is based in the west country, has been working in the period property market for over 30 years and now runs courses for agents dealing with older properties and conversions.
He said: “As well as being proof of due diligence in case of a friendly visit from the authorities, my courses are specifically aimed at helping agents to move up-market.
“The bottom end has become a quagmire of unsustainably low fees and strong competition from the online-only agents and passive intermediaries.
“Apart from being much more enjoyable to deal with and more financially rewarding, agents are treated more as property professionals at the higher end, and their knowledge is valued by clients much more.
“Increasingly, this is seen as the way forward for many practitioners who can see the weak spots in the armour of the top firms who have traditionally cornered this end of the market.”
His next course is in London on Tuesday, May 9, and there are a handful of places left for anyone who would like to attend.
The following one is in York on Wednesday, July 12.
To reserve a place call NFOPP Courses on 0845 250 6007 or email: email@example.com
Richard Copus can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org