What credentials should I look for in an estate agent?

Choosing the right estate agent
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Feeling a bit overwhelmed while trying to choose an estate agent to help sell your home? Here we list the key criteria to look out for.

When it comes to selling your home, it’s advisable to appoint an estate agent to help value it, create a marketing strategy for your property to get the results required, provide ‘for sale’ boards, conduct viewings, and generally deal with the sales process from start to finish.

There are a variety of services available depending on how much involvement and work, you would like to do, so make sure you research and decide what exactly you want from your estate agent from the outset.

Estate agents are becoming ever-more professional, helped by a raft of measures announced by the Government last April, to drive any rogue agents out of the market. These included professional qualifications, the requirement for Client Money Protection and a requirement to be transparent about fees.

What does this mean for homeowners?

The requirement for agents to have a professional qualification will put them on a similar footing to conveyancers, solicitors and surveyors.

At the same time, agents who don’t comply with the new rules will face greater penalties, including being fined or even banned.

But it is still worth checking your estate agent’s credentials before signing on the dotted line, so what exactly should you look out for?

Is there an overall governing body for estate agents?

No. Rather than an overall governing body, there is a hierarchy of legislation, mandatory redress schemes and professional trade bodies.

So how do you know where to begin?

See if the agent is a member of a trade body

Find out if your agent is a regulated member of a professional body. Many agents will be members of trade bodies, such as estate agency industry body, NAEA Propertymark or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The NAEA is the professional body for estate agents, promoting high standards within the property sector. Members are bound by strict rules and are expected to uphold high levels of professional standards. They must adhere to a strict code of conduct. NAEA can issue tough penalties if rules are breached.

Agents who belong to RICS face sanctions if they act inappropriately. In the worst cases, agents could end up losing their chartered status, meaning they can no longer carry out certain types of work. 

Check for a redress scheme

All estate agents need to be a member of a Government-approved independent redress scheme. This is a legal requirement. The idea behind this is that complaints can be dealt with quickly and easily.

With this in mind, make sure your agent is a member of The Property Ombudsman or Property Redress scheme.

The role of an independent redress scheme is to provide fair and reasonable resolutions to disputes with members of the public.

Note that the Ombudsman Services: Property was discontinued in August 2018. Members of this scheme have had to join an alternative scheme.

Check for membership of a Client Money Protection Scheme (CMP)

This became a legal requirement for any agency handling clients money to be a member of one of the six government schemes

Why is it important to check an agent’s credentials? 

It can be tempting to go for the one that gives you the highest valuation. But you need to consider other factors, such as fees, the time is takes to sell properties, the service offered and whether the agent belongs to any regulatory bodies.

This will ensure you are getting an agent working to the highest standards, offering honest advice and a top-notch service.

Other things to assist in your decision

Online Reviews

Take with a pinch of salt but look for any consistent messages or how the agent has responded to these reviews.

Personal recommendation

Ask around local friends and collegues who they have used and how they would rate them.

Use social media for local recommendations.

So that concludes this episode of Ask the Estate Agent Podcast. You can contact us anytime using the links below:

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Twitter: www.twitter.com/asktheEA

Website: www.asktheestateagent.co.uk

So don’t forget to contact us with any subjects you would like us to cover or questions you would like answering in the coming episodes and until next time I would like to thank you for listening and goodbye for now.

This podcast is brought to you by www.libertygate.co.uk

About the author, David Thomas

David Thomas is an Entrepreneur and passionate Estate Agent who loves helping others on their property journey.

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