I recently took part in an RICS debate that asked “What does it mean to be a professional in residential estate and lettings agency?”
The audience, at RICS HQ, were budding and present chartered surveyors.
Partly to start a debate I jumped straight in and said that I thought the title was an oxymoron.
In a world where customers are increasingly used to getting what they want when they want, as cheaply as possible, and with a government that clearly doesn’t give a toss – does spending the money on a quality qualification give you enough clout to differentiate you from your opposition?
Ultimately we are all here to make money, and despite the fact that many agents get a sense of wellbeing by doing the right thing, unless the money is coming in you ain’t going to be doing much good for anyone.
I still don’t get how it’s possible to simply set up shop with whatever name takes your fancy over the door, give [literally] a nod to redress and anti-money laundering and start taking money from people and dealing with what’s often their biggest asset.
It staggers me that the selling and renting public don’t put more pay by quality.
Indeed the ongoing debate about listing with online agents shows clearly that many sellers out there THINK they can do it themselves, without the need for an agent at all.
Often they find that DIY sounds great until the 80% of work it takes to get their sale to exchange drops in their lap. It’s usually only then that they realise quite how important a professional agent is.
Forget the rights and wrongs of the various routes to sale then: the issue is education.
What was clear from the RICS debate was that everyone in the room recognised the need for professionalism, but over the years the public haven’t.
Quite how you do that in an age when agents simply aren’t interested in working together is anyone’s guess.
To start with you need an industry-wide qualification – which the old NAEA tech awards went some way to fulfilling – which is recognised and required by Government, allied to TV advertising informing the public.
It’s really not difficult but there seems no appetite for it.
Self-regulation and low fees seem to be what the Government likes – and until we have a unified voice they aren’t likely to listen.