Midlands property expert says estate agent crackdown is long overdue

One of the East Midlands leading property experts has said he’s surprised it’s taken the government so long to introduce a tougher stance on rogue estate agents.

Rob Clifford, commercial director at Nottingham headquartered property specialist SDL Group and CEO of estate agency franchise CENTURY 21 UK, has spoken out after Housing Secretary Sajid Javid announced a raft of new rules. These include a requirement for all estate agents to hold a professional qualification, the disclosure of referral fees received from solicitors, surveyors and mortgage brokers and a crackdown on ‘gazumping’.

Commenting on the announcement, Rob said:  “It’s been 18-years since regulation and mandatory qualifications for mortgage advisers were introduced, so it’s certainly not before time. This is the last such industry with no barriers to entry and we’ve been left in a situation where an unqualified carpet fitter or a van driver can trade as an estate agent without evidencing competence. I’m not surprised many have been left wondering what on earth has taken so long to get to this position where the government is finally taking it seriously.

“What we need to remember is that there are many very good estate agents out there who are not professionally qualified or vastly experienced, but are actually doing a brilliant job. It shouldn’t be about driving these people out of the industry. Instead, we should be focusing on the ‘men of straw’ who can’t afford to run a competent business or compensate consumers who suffer failure. These are the ones who need to go.

“It will be interesting to see if this goes in the same direction as mortgage regulations, which started with a mandatory qualification and then moved on to professional indemnity insurance, the Ombudsman and eventually full statutory regulation. I guess time will tell but hopefully we won’t be waiting another 18-years to find out!”