The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has said that it will professionalise the estate agency market. It has also said that a good buying agent can provide prospective buyers with the peace of mind that is not always obtainable. These changes could ensure that buyers with agents will only ever buy through a trustworthy estate agent.
Former housing secretary, Sajid Javid, announced recently new measures that hope to improve industry standards and bring an end to ‘rogue estate agents’.
The buying and selling process can cause unnecessary emotional stress, especially to inexperienced first-time buyers.
Nathalie Hirst, Founder and Director of Nathalie Hirst Ltd, explains;
“It is very easy to knock estate agents, but the vast majority are good ones, who handle the process with the highest of standards, whilst always remembering their code of conduct. Despite this however, issues of professionalism and ethics are prevalent. After all, estate agents act on behalf of a vendor, not the buyer, and if not very experienced or professional, they won’t have the appropriate knowledge and expertise on subjects such as money laundering, data protection and even their local housing market.
“The majority of my clients do ask about the reputation of somebody who is selling a property they like, and it’s not unusual for us to hear from buyers with upsetting stories to tell either. Given they’re making the biggest investment of their lives, they should not have to experience all this stress, delay and uncertainty. The Government’s new measures are therefore overdue, and will no doubt be appreciated by many property leaders, as well as myself.
“However, a good buying agent can help protect buyers from unprofessionalism too. Having been in this industry for over twenty years now, I’m able to provide that assurance because I know who can and can’t be trusted. I will only ever approach a firm I deem reputable, and if a ‘bad’ agent and a ‘good’ agent both contact me regarding the same property, I will always select who I know is respectable, rather than the agent who called me first. I’ll also make sure everything is put in writing to ensure 100% transparency.”
One case study is a family who bought a home in London, which they didn’t realise had a tube tunnel running under the garden. The resulting noise pollution was not disclosed to them – either by the estate agent nor the surveyor – and the house had to be sold on at a loss.
Hirst comments, “This is a classic example of what can go wrong. If the estate agent had disclosed the hidden tube from the offset, his business would not have suffered the financial nor reputational loss. A good buying agent would have given all the facts – positive and pejorative – about a property, and then once armed with all the information, the client can make a decision on whether to go through with a transaction. Something as fundamental as a tube rumble would also have an impact on value.”