Can regulation change the perception of the sector?

In a recent episode of The Home Stretch podcast, Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals caught up with Nathan Emerson, CEO of Propertymark, a membership body, which much like The Guild, is working to raise the standards within the sector.

Speaking about the perception of estate agents, McKenzie asks whether Emerson believes that regulation is the way forward to break through the current poor stereotype of the industry.  In response, Emerson answers: “I think regulation provides the benchmark. Aspects such as providing upfront information has become more prevalent, consumer protection regulations are becoming more enforceable, and we are getting to the stage where agents are held accountable for providing the right information. All supply partners such as solicitors, conveyancers and financial services are reliant on what estate agents do, and it is often the agent that has much of the oversight and control over the transaction in many cases. So, essentially there are regulated suppliers that are asked to take the information that estate agents provide, however, many won’t want to do that because they do not currently trust the qualifications of the agent. Having regulations in place will put estate agents in line with everyone else involved in property transaction, such as the banks, legal services, and surveyors. Estate agents are probably the strongest link in the transaction, yet are the only group in the framework that are not regulated and are therefore less accountable.”

In response, McKenzie says: “Arguably estate agents would also have more contact and influence with the consumer.”

Absolutely, Emerson answers. “And I would dare say that is growing as more and more tools enable agents to take more control of that process. I think regulation will provide stability. Of course, there is also the other element of how agents present themselves and conduct themselves daily.”

McKenzie asked Emerson whether he thinks that Ropa will happen. Answering, Emerson says: “I think when you look at regulation you have the idealism of Ropa within a definitive structure, and then you have the other side of the fence, which is the actual outcomes of what Ropa would be, and what other ways that would be brought in. So, do you end up with licensing and regulation on block management as a first port of call, or is it the requirement to take examinations or various other possibilities? It is more than likely, looking at the direction of travel that is coming from Michael Gove, it will come in segmented parts and over time more and more elements of the legislation will be put in place to regulate the sector. It will be fantastic to have it, but I don’t think it is the highest thing on the agenda now. What I would reiterate, is that the movement we are seeing filtering down from DLUHC is gradually closing the holes that would effectively allow people not to operate in an unregulated society.”

To hear more of the conversation, visit The Home Stretch podcast.