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  • Mal McCallion

House Schools: Estate Agents Heading Back to the Classroom?

Updated: Apr 26



In a very illustrative example of ‘being careful what you wish for’, estate agents in the UK are being shown exactly what deeper regulation would mean for their industry – going back to school.

 

The opposition Labour Party has tabled an amendment to legislation, currently going through Parliament, which will force every estate agent to have at least one A-Level – and every Director to have an undergraduate Degree. This would be retrospective, too, meaning that anyone owning an estate agency that has not been to university would have to find a way to qualify – although a grace period would likely allow for this to take place over some years.

 

Propertymark, the industry body, has long been an advocate of driving up standards in estate agency by having a form of regulation and qualification to practice selling and letting property. In other countries this is taken seriously – Swedish agents, for example, have to have a two-year university qualification, rising to three years in 2028 – and Propertymark’s policy head, Timothy Douglas, has welcomed Labour’s move.


“We want a properly regulated industry where our professional knowledge and skills are trusted and respected,” he says. “We want to level the playing field for the consumer. There really is no oversight by anybody and that’s the fundamental issue. It’s just wrong.”

 

One can take issue with his statement that “there really is not oversight by anybody” – certainly the Property Ombudsman and Trading Standards might disagree – but, even though this amendment is likely to fail now, due to the Government’s majority, the prospect of a Labour Government within the next 12 months mean that every agent ought to be considering how they might deal with these changes coming in over the next five years.

 

The industry is often painted as grubby and corrupt, due to the actions of a tiny minority of individuals within it. Whether this will rid us of these bad actors – or simply make them smarter and better educated – remains to be seen.


But it is very likely that we will find out in the medium-term – and that means, for significant number of longstanding and incredibly professional agents, grabbing their pencil cases and schoolbags and heading back to the classroom.

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