The latest Guest Post offering is from the legendary Ed Mead, @ed_mead on Twitter, from the highly respected London Estate Agents Douglas & Gordon. Here Ed talks about the latest step in regulating Estate Agents.
Powys Council and HMRC to oversee estate agents from 1st April; if it had been written on 1st April itself you might giggle, but it wasn’t, it’s serious.
The authority tasked with regulating and watching over those who’ll be handling the biggest transaction you’ll ever do are now trading standards officers in Wales and HMRC. Nope, I don’t understand it either. The Property Ombudsman and predecessor Ombudsman for Estate Agents spent years working with the OFT which does what it says, Office of Fair Trading. They weren’t the nimblest of outfits but at least the cap fit. The Financial Conduct Authority were approached but said they weren’t well enough resourced, plenty of will there then. A pity as at least the words Financial Conduct would give anyone actually buying and selling the sense that someone was on their side.
Compounding this is the fact that when long time servant and Housing Minister Mark Prisk was recently retired just as he was getting well known, as well as a grasp on what was happening, he was replaced by the well-meaning Kris Hopkins who despite his best efforts is as we speak still a Junior Minister and nowhere near a cabinet seat.
So anyone wondering what is happening to housing could be excused for imagining that housing, and the buying and renting of it, sits pretty low in the priority pecking order for The Coalition.
It sounds obvious but what possible reason could the authorities have for not wanting those who conduct sales and lettings to be licensed or regulated. There’s little point is trying to blame agents for anything if no one’s willing to make sure they have even a basic test of professional competence before starting to show people round properties and, heaven forbid, start negotiating a sale. At the moment anyone wishing to do so needs not one even tiny piece of training, amazing.
As I’ve said before, you get what you pay for and it seems as if HMRC, whose relevance here I’m still struggling to fathom, and Powys County Council were the only ones willing to pay anything at all, and that speaks volumes.