We obsess over property in this country, from TV shows to headline news every time prices marginally go up or down. We buy houses to live in, for investments and as second properties. There’s no denying we are a nation with a keen interest in bricks and mortar. So if you’re selling or letting you’ll likely be Googling ‘Best estate agents near me’. Well, you’re in the right place.
Estate agents, who play a fundamental role in our home buying, selling and renting process, aren’t particularly trusted in the UK. A 2021 Ipsos MORI poll revealed that only 32% of people felt they could trust an estate agent to tell the truth. But why the lack of trust?
Estate agent regulation
Agents are regulated under the Estate Agents Act 1979, which outlines the duties owed to buyer and seller clients. However, operators are not required to hold a license or qualification, so anyone can set up a sales or letting agency.
That’s not to say all agents operate in bad faith. Indeed, many of them opt to be regulated over and above what is legally required, are highly experienced and provide sellers and renters with a five-star service. You just need to know where to find them.
That’s the purpose of this guide, which has everything you need to know about finding the best agent in your area.
Who regulates estate agents?
There are no mandatory regulations in the UK for anyone thinking of starting an estate agency. You don’t need to pass tests, prove your property chops or demonstrate relevant experience. All you need is the money to set yourself up.
Fortunately, this isn’t how estate agents typically operate, and you’ll find that most of them do it because they have experience and are passionate about the profession. Even better, there is a professional body for estate and letting agents, Propertymark, who regulate their members, even though it’s not required by UK law.
What is Propertymark?
Propertymark is a leading membership body that holds property agents to account and sets standards adhered to across the industry. Launched in 2017, Propertymark combines five different associations – ARLA, NAEA, NAVA, ICBA and APIP – into one entity. It covers every major aspect of property, from buying and selling to renting and letting.
Agents that are part of Propertymark train to be at the forefront of their sector, and their agencies are compliant, transparent and regulated. In a sea of options, choosing agents that are a member of Propertymark significantly enhances your chances of using a good estate agent (or letting agent if you’re renting).
How does Propertymark regulate agents?
Propertymark regulates its members’ activity with a code of conduct and rules that includes disciplinary action for instances of noncompliance. Membership for agents is conditional on meeting Propertymark’s conduct and rules.
It offers agents guidance, advice and research so agents can perform their job to the highest level.
In addition, they can continue their professional development with a comprehensive programme of workshops, conferences and events hosted by Propertymark.
Why is it important to have regulation?
Essentially it boils down to repercussions. Estate and letting agents that aren’t regulated don’t have to adhere to certain standards, which in some cases can lead to bad practice.
However, regulation means all agents must follow guidelines set by the governing body, to professionalise their practice.
Propertymark’s conduct and membership rules lead to higher professional standards. If members do not meet them they are investigated. You can also make a complaint if you feel necessary.
Whether you’re the buyer, seller, renter or landlord, you have more rights when using a Propertymark agent because of the regulations they put in place.
How to choose an estate agent
When looking for an agent, there are several factors worth considering before making a decision. Ideally, the instructed agent – whether sales or lettings – should be:
- Experienced – what qualifications do they have, and how long have they worked in the industry?
- Enthusiastic – they’re selling or letting your home and should show enthusiasm to finding the right buyer or renter
- Helpful – provide insights about how they will market the property, explain processes and always encourage queries
- Approachable – for many people, buying and selling a property is an entirely new concept. Therefore, the agent should be friendly and approachable, ready to guide where needed
- Knowledgeable – able to demonstrate their knowledge of the local area and surrounding postcodes, including sold prices, popular property types and average sale time for houses
- Professional – be a member of a professional body, like Propertymark.
Can you trust all estate agents?
Unfortunately not. But looking for a Propertymark member agent is definitely the best place to find one that you can.
Each member agent is regulated, qualified and adheres to high standards. This makes them a safer bet than estate agents that aren’t part of a professional setup.
Finding the best estate agent near me
Selecting the right agent is crucial to your property selling or letting experience.
Propertymark promotes higher standards than the current laws demand and proactively campaigns for more enforcement to regulate the property sector.
They also ensure member agents are held accountable to protect you and your money.
Last Updated: November 22nd, 2023