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April 2009

In pursuit of a common standard backed up by a Code of Practice

Sir,

WITH regard to the correspondence in last month’s Estate Agency News concerning Ombudsman for Estate Agents chairman Bill McClintock’s proposals on registration for estate agents, it’s fair to say he is being motivated by a desire to improve standards in the industry, not to develop a quick fee-earning opportunity.

Bill’s idea is to set up a steering group and let this develop the registration theme. It would be something entirely separate from OEA and while the OEA supports the suggestion, Bill is promoting the registration idea as a personal one.

These days, estate agents need to ensure accuracy in all they do and to have the highest standards of behaviour. The industry has a tarnished image it does not deserve but, like many professions, there’s always someone ready to give it a bad name.

Registration would flag up these individuals, who may be dismissed by one firm and then go on to try to restart their career with another which would not be aware of past history. It would also try to raise standards among those working in estate agency by ensuring anyone involved in property appraisals and sale negotiations had some formal, recognised training.

Your correspondent Mr Bretherton gets off on the wrong foot when he talks about the OEA regulating estate agents and clearly does not have a grasp of the difference between regulation and redress.

It is the latter that is offered by OEA, as the Ombudsman, Christopher Hamer, made clear in his recent annual report.

Chris Arnold, whose letter also appeared in your March edition, is right when he says standards need to improve and also right that more use must be made of the many excellent training companies available to agents.

The industry needs to set a common standard backed by a Code of Practice, and that’s where Bill McClintock is coming from.

MAURICE HARDY,
PR Officer,
Ombudsman for Estate Agents.