Phil Spencer offers advice on what to ask estate agents
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When you buy a property, buyers don’t have much choice which agent they go through. However, when it comes to selling a home, vendors might have a plethora of agents to choose from. But many people don’t know what they’re looking for when it comes to choosing an estate agent. In almost every area of property, the professionals people deal with such as mortgage advisors and solicitors are regulated and qualified.
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Even the person that does an EPC rating on a property does a one-day course.
Estate agents are not regulated and qualified in the same way.
However, those who sign up and are members of Propertymark, a membership organisation for estate agents, have to reach a certain standard to become a member.
TV property expert and founder of Move iQ, Phil Spencer, is working with Propertymark to make consumers aware of what a good estate agent looks like and the difference between a qualified one and a non-qualified one.
“You wouldn’t book a holiday with a travel agent who wasn’t qualified or regulated,” Phil explained exclusively to Express.co.uk.
“…Or a mortgage broker, or a solicitor. You wouldn’t dream of dealing with those important things in your life unless they were regulated or qualified to do that.
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“And yet, it seems we don’t ask our estate agents – who are dealing with our most valuable asset – ‘are you qualified to do that?’”
What is a qualified estate agent?
The Propertymark qualification ensures estate agents are up-to-date with all the latest legislation, and are professional.
A Propertymark agent has signed themselves up to be a member and is continually training themselves.
“The key thing for me is a Propertymark agent has dedicated themselves by volunteering to a code of professional conduct and standard and therefore self-improvement and that says a lot about a business,” Phil said.
It’s not mandatory to sign up and be a member of Propertymark.
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However, Britons who deal with a Propertymark agent can be assured they are dealing with a qualified agent who has a “technical knowledge of property” and is “more likely” to be able to value a home correctly.
Consumers who choose a qualified estate agent are also protected if there is a problem with the transaction.
Phil said: “Nobody wants things to go sour but if it does happen, you want all the protection you can.
“It’s such a financial and emotional process buying a house.
“It’s common sense that you’d want to deal with someone who is a professional, trained, regulated and can offer protection. It just makes 100 percent sense. Why wouldn’t you?”
How can you check whether an estate agent is qualified?
Vendors looking for a qualified estate agent need to simply “look for the logo”.
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Propertymark members have to have the logo visible.
If they are a Propertymark member, they have signed up and they are doing everything Propertymark requires of them, and they will have the logo in the window and on their website.
Vendors can also ask estate agents whether they’re qualified and are a Propertymark member.
It’s also important that consumers know the right questions to ask.
“Consumers who buy and sell maybe four or five homes in their lives might not be as informed about what the right questions are to ask,” Phil added.
The property expert suggested consumers ask agents whether they are protected, whether the agent is qualified and whether they are a Propertymark member.
What are the risks involved when you don’t use a qualified estate agent?
An estate agent has to carry out lots of anti-money-laundering checks on buyers.
“If the right checks are being carried out, you are much-reducing your chances of a deal falling through,” Phil said.
“Giving that almost 30 percent of transactions fall through, you want to do everything you can to reduce the chances of your sale falling through because that costs time and money.”
A Propertymark-accredited agent should be able to provide a greater level of reassurance all the way through the transaction and will be able to provide recourse if there was a problem.
An agent who is voluntarily part of the Propertymark group is regulating themselves which means they’re demonstrating they care about the service they provide.
“In signing up, they are saying we care, we are professional and we are providing you with the best quality of service,” Phil added.
Members of Propertymark take qualifications and accredited courses to reach and maintain a certain standard.
Consumers who choose to work with a Propertymark-accredited agent are protected and have someone to contact if something goes wrong.
Propertymark hold their agents to a standard and can arrange disciplinary, or appeal hearings, when there is evidence of a member breaching their conduct and membership rules.
By using a Propertymark Protected member you are guaranteed to be consulting with a professional who will give you up-to-date advice and guidance.
The agency trade body has 18,000 members and is the UK’s leading professional body for estate agents.
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