New RICS code for agents updates guidance on conflicts of interest and financial crime

A new Blue Book has been issued by the RICS – with no mention at all of online or hybrid agents.

However, an RICS press release which promotes the Blue Book’s launch specifically cites an agent who warns against ‘online selling’.

The Blue Book provides practice standards for agents working in both sales and lettings, and the latest edition is effective as from last week.

While the Blue Book’s code is aimed at RICS members, it is supported by both NAEA and ARLA Propertymark.

It is produced by a working party whose members include ARLA Propertymark boss David Cox; Propertymark executive chairman Chris Hamer; housing lawyer David Smith; and agents including Jan Hytch of Arnold Keys, and Richard Powell of Ryder & Dutton.

The updated Blue Book includes updates as to mandatory guidance on conflicts of interest and behaviour, Client Money Protection and financial crime aspects.

Online/hybrid agents are not referenced – but plainly there could be some parts of the Blue Book which some might find hard to comply with.

For example, it says that property particulars should be prepared by a member of staff who has personally inspected the property.

The Blue Book also strongly suggests that it is not a good idea for sellers to conduct their own viewings.

It says: “You should offer to carry out as many viewings as possible as it is generally believed that more sales and lettings result from accompanied viewings than those with sellers or landlords.”

The Blue Book uses the term ‘estate agent’ to cover both sales and letting agents, differing from the definition in the Estate Agents Act 1979 which does not include lettings.

Jeff Doble, CEO at London agent Dexters, said in the press release about the updated Blue Book: “Our London Training Academy works closely with RICS, in our mission to demonstrate that a modern residential estate agency can be and should be highly customer and consumer focused.

“Standards and ethics need to be built into a practice’s DNA both through training and top down commitment.

“We would always recommend that consumers use an RICS qualified professional when buying or selling property to get the best possible outcome and advice.

“Online selling can be a largely DIY approach, and consumers should use a reliable professional, rather than just any agent.”

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