Make your own decision as to why, but in my view, it is quite simple. Propertymark and RICS are consumer protection organisations. They are not, as many think (and as they like to portray themselves) trade bodies in place to look after the interests of agents. Basically, they exist to uphold the standards of their members, thus protecting consumers.
Yes, they do many positive things in the interests of their members and yes, those things benefit non-members, but looking after the interests of non-members is not a focus for them.
When you think about them both as consumer protection organisations there are a few things you start to realise.
They were set many years ago to promote best practice and high standards in an era where consumer protection legislation was non-existent. The organisations flourished for many years. They protected consumers by promoting the standards of their members and taking action against members who breached their standards and rules.
Move on to 1990’s and the Ombudsman for Estate Agents was set up and consumer protection was gaining momentum. Laws were being brought in to improve agency standards across the country. The relevance of those two organisations was diminishing. Move on a few more years and property ombudsman schemes had statutory backing and every sales and letting agency had to be a member of one.
There is no doubt these organisations, particularly Propertymark, have done a lot for agency over the years, but today consumer protection, and standards of service are controlled by legislation not self-regulation within organisations.
So how do they retain relevance? They put themselves at the forefront of change.
The area of qualification alone will bring in massive increases in revenue. Every agent will need to ensure their employees are ‘qualified’. Take a rough estimate of 25,000 sales and letting agency businesses. This is not branches, it’s just businesses.
Hundreds of thousands of people employed in the sector. How many people will therefore need to have the qualification? Thousands will need level 3 qualification. Principles, directors, partners, managers needing level 4 qualification as well. Add to that the CPD that will be continually needed and perhaps we can see one reason why RoPA was supported!
David Beaumont is managing director at Compliance Matters.